CARDIFF, Wales - Anthony Joshua hopes a successful fourth title defence in Cardiff on Saturday will keep him on course to achieve his goal of becoming undisputed world heavyweight champion in 2018.
Not every fight can be career-defining and Cameroon's France-based Carlos Takam, Joshua's opponent at the Principality Stadium, is hardly one of the biggest stars in the heavyweight division over which British boxer Joshua currently rules.
Takam, 36, was only drafted in at 12 days' notice after Joshua’s original opponent Kubrat Pulev, of Bulgaria, pulled out with a shoulder injury. He has three defeats in a 39-fight record and this will be his first world-title fight.
But it seems not to matter who is in the other corner when Joshua fights in the UK -- fans will still turn up. Promoter Eddie Hearn claims a crowd of over 70,000 will take their seats at the Principality, the home of the Wales rugby union team.
Victory for Joshua, 28, both the International Boxing Federation and World Boxing Association champion, will see him return to fighting the division's big names after his thrilling 11th round stoppage of Ukraine’s Wladimir Klitschko in front of 90,000 at Wembley in April.
Beating Klitschko, who reigned for a decade, was the highlight of 2012 Olympic champion Joshua’s four-year professional career.
Parker and Wilder on the horizon
There could be more epic encounters next year, with Hearn hoping Joshua can box three times in 2018 with the aim being to win the other two world title belts held by New Zealand’s Joseph Parker, the World Boxing Organisation champion, and American Deontay Wilder, who defends his World Boxing Council crown against Haiti's Bermane Stiverne on November 4.
"We could fight Parker in February or March, so you have the WBO and then it's only one more,” Hearn said. "We’ve only boxed twice this year, which has worked out OK because the Klitschko fight was huge.
"But ideally, March, April, summer then December. That would be nice. In a perfect world, two of the three fights would be for the additional belts. In any order."
On hearing Hearn’s plans for him, a laughing Joshua said: "So actually, I think we’ll be fighting Parker and Wilder in 2018."
Keeping all four versions of the world title intact is a difficult job due to the different obligations from the rival world governing bodies.
"We want to become undisputed heavyweight champion and then probably we will have to vacate the belts," said Hearn.
Joshua has yet to fight outside of the UK and has stopped all 19 of his professional opponents.
One world title unification fight that could happen in the UK in 2018 would be against Parker, who made a second title defence against England’s Hughie Fury on points last month.
“The Titans didn’t clash, so it didn’t create a good, entertaining fight, especially for a heavyweight championship fight, nut the good thing is he’s still champion and it still bubbles in the background for me," said Joshua.
On the undercard, Joshua’s former victim Dillian Whyte can put himself in the frame for a shot at the WBC version of the world title next year.
Whyte, who moved to London from Jamaica as a child, was knocked out by Joshua in December 2015 but is ranked No 3 by the WBC.
Meanwhile Ireland’s Katie Tayor, the 2012 Olympic gold medallist, can win a world title in her seventh professional fight when she takes on Argentina’s Anahi Sanchez for the WBA lightweight belt.
Also on the bill, England’s Kal Yafai makes a second defence of his WBA world super-flyweight title against Japan’s Sho Ishida in a clash of two unbeaten boxers.