Golden boy Joshua begins professional career in style with first-round stoppage
By Jeff Powell - dailymail.co.uk
So explosive was Anthony Joshua that he came close to the extraordinary distinction of knocking out two men on his professional debut.
Down and out: Anthony Joshua (left) floored Emanuele Leo in the first round of his professional debut
The Adonis hoping to become Britain’s next Lennox Lewis –as an undisputed world heavyweight champion – said: ‘I was worried for a moment that I might be disqualified. The referee said break but I saw Emanuele flinch and thought he was going to throw a punch. So I threw a counter and hit the ref. I apologise to him.’
As soon as Joshua unleashed his right, the end was nigh. The Italian withstood the first couple of sledgehammer blows but was soon staggering backwards and reeling against the ropes.
Mercifully Leo subsided 13 seconds before the bell which would have condemned him to an even more punishing second round.
A final, huge punch sent him sagging onto the bottom ropes. Lewis waved it off as the Italian sank to the canvas, oblivious and needing oxygen to recover.
Joshua credited the Olympic experience of high pressure and large crowds for the nerves-settling maturity he brought to his first paid outing, then added: ‘This was as big for me as winning gold. You only have one pro debut and you want to do well.’
Never in doubt: Joshua will return to the ring later this month as he looks to build momentum
The brevity of his first night’s work will enable Joshua to reappear quickly, on the undercard of Kell Brook’s fight with Vyacheslav Senchenko, who spoiled Ricky Hatton’s comeback, only three Saturdays hence in Sheffield. There will be more outings to come, in quick succession.
Joshua, at 23, is impressing outside as well as inside the ropes. Asked to define his ambitions, he said: ‘Boxing has made me a better person. I want to keep learning and by seizing my opportunity give back by showing other poor kids how they can improve and succeed.’
As part of his education Joshua is seeking advice not only from Lewis but from reigning world heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko, who has racked up the 15th consecutive successful defence of his titles with an overwhelming, if ugly, defeat of Russia’s Alexander Povetkin in Moscow.
Onwards and upwards: Luke Campbell celebrates winning his second professional fight at the O2 ArenJoshua demurs when pressed upon how soon he might challenge for the crown himself: ‘I’m not saying anything yet.’
Promoter Eddie Hearn says it for him: ‘Big Josh is going all the way. This is just the start of a phenomenal journey.’
The same may be true of Britain’s other boxing gold medallist from the London Games. Hull lightweight Luke Campbell also looked the professional package in his second paid fight with another first round stoppage, this time of Darlington’s Neil Hepper.
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