LONDON - Anthony Joshua has swatted away accusations he has taken an easy route to his mega-fight with Wladimir Klitschko at Wembley on Saturday.
Joshua has only boxed 44 rounds in 18 professional fights - figures dwarfed by the 358 rounds amassed in 68 bouts by his Ukrainian opponent who ruled the heavyweight division for a decade.
The lack of elite opposition in Joshua’s rise is what makes the IBF champion such an unknown quantity going into his 19th professional fight. The issue of experience has been held up as a factor in Klitschko’s favour by Lennox Lewis.
But Joshua has rejected suggestions that he is undercooked, despite never going beyond the seventh round.
He said: ‘Look at it this way, who were Tyson Fury and Lennox fighting in their 19th fight? People say I had an easy route to the championship, but I didn’t have to take on Charles Martin (for the world title in his 16th fight).
‘I should have said, “No, I’m going to defend the British title outright, I should stay where I am”.
‘We rise to the occasion each time and that’s what fighting is all about. Don’t back down from any challenge.’
In fact, Lewis was fighting the unremarkable Levi Billups in his 19th fight and did not fight for a world crown until his 23rd outing.
Fury’s first meeting with world level opposition came in his 25th and most recent fight, against Klitschko.
Meanwhile, Joshua has told his mother, Yeta Odusanya, to resist any temptation to be at ringside for his third title defence. Father Jonathan will be there, but his mother has not been to any of his fights since he won gold at London 2012.
He said: ‘I don’t really let my mum come to my fights. It’s not a place you want to see your kid, I don’t think - a fight.’