Londoner Anthony Joshua could become IBF world heavyweight champion title, in only his 16th fight tomorrow.
But the 26-year-old Brit hasn’t had unanimous support from his own boxing community, on the eve of his battle with American Charles Martin.
Domestic Tyson Fury has lampooned him as “rubbish” and David Haye hasn’t been too kind either.
Here is what South Yorkshire boxing luminaries think - and some of them fancy Fury to continue his ascent, rather than Joshua!
DAVE COLDWELL (manager/trainer)
Tyson is playing the game. He knows a fight between them will be a huge pay-day and that Joshua isn’t ready for it yet so probably started the ball rolling to build it up. He’ll have respect for Joshua should he beat Martin but right now Joshua is just a young prospect fighting for his old (IBF) title and Tyson is sat on his throne looking down and picking holes at him to let him know he’s at the top.
Joshua is a work in progress, for a man of his limited experience he is developing fantastically well and has the potential to be a huge star and one of the leading men of the division in time.
Martin has a great record, is tall and could be very awkward and dangerous with his southpaw stance However, technical-ability wise, he’s not as good as Joshua.
Martin, as a pro, has never been hit by anyone like Joshua - speed and power with vicious intentions - and when he does get hit, could be like a rabbit in the lights.
Joshua had that in his last fight and came through it. There’s a lot to be said for experiencing a crisis and coming through it. A potential banana skin maybe, but I say an impressive Joshua win by stoppage.
DAVID ALLEN (HEAVYWEIGHT)
I think the criticism from Tyson and Haye isn’t meant just to build future fights they know Joshua brings the money. I think Joshua will beat Martin in one or two rounds be too fast and powerful. I think he will become world champion on Saturday, but he will never become the number one heavyweight - Fury beats him easily.
ROSS BURKINSHAW (RETIRED CHAMPION)
At that weight anything is possible. Personally I think it’s a bit early in Joshua’s career for this fight but the criticism that is aimed towards Joshua is unfair, if he and his team feel like he his ready.
CLINTON WOODS (FORMER WORLD CHAMPION)
If Joshua is going to compete for a title this has got to be the time, as it’s got to be the worst heavyweight division in 50 years. Yes it’s exciting in British terms we have Fury, Haye, Joshua but on the world stage it’s terrible. Martin is no world-beater and Joshua not really been tested other than his over-hyped last fight. Fury is the best of bunch at the moment.
LEE CONNELLY (SUPER LIGHTWEIGHT)
I understand why Joshua is getting criticism from Fury and Haye because they have both proven they are real world champions. I think Joshua will win but Martin is not on the same level as Haye or Fury. Joshua has massive hype surrounding him but has had it easy this far and has been over-rated. We will see over the next couple of years if he can grow has a fighter and live up to the hype,. Both Haye and Fury would beat him.
JON BUSTER KEETON (RETIRED CHAMPION)
I like AJ a lot, but I am quite shocked they are rushing him, though. Do his handlers know something we don’t? He has the potential to become the next Frank Bruno or Lennox Lewis. He has the physique, power, but his chin has not really been tested. I am a fan of Fury but I’d like to see another 18 months out of AJ first before that fight. As for Haye he will do anything to get back in the mix aand probably sees AJ as an opportunity. All said and done, AJ wins the IBF strap, but it’s not the old school way and he could end up knocking no-name bums out in his defences. If that’s the case, he’ll never get the status Lennox got.
LIAM CAMERON (SUPER MIDDLEWEIGHT CHAMPION)
I think this is Fury’s way of getting to Joshua and making him know he causes him no threat as he is the unified world champion. I saw more of Joshua’s weaknesses in his last fight - he was a bit robotic and relying on his power. I hope he wins but I think it’s going to be a hard night.
LEWIS TAYLOR: (ENGLISH MIDDLEWEIGHT CHAMPION)
I can see Joshua going a long way. I don’t in any way think he will get battered. Yes he got tagged in the Dillian Whyte fight. But he came out and stopped him. Everyone gets caught while boxing. It’s like swimming and not getting wet -you will get caught in a good contest. I think he needs a good test to start proving the haters wrong.
BARRY AWAD/KID GALAHAD (SUPER BANTAMWEIGHT)
I’m a good friend of Tyson and he is a smart guy,I think he’s on AJ because he’s hyping a possible fight further down the line. Haye has been there and done it already and I think he needs another big pay-day so he is challenging AJ through criticising him. AJ isn’t good with southpaws and Martin is an unknown.
But I think AJ needs to jump on him in the first six rounds and pressure Martin as he seems to box at his own steady pace. Joshua needs to make him uncomfortable in front of the home crowd and take advantage of it. After six, it will become more difficult for AJ if Martin survives the early pressure. But I’m tipping AJ to win by stoppage.