Anthony Joshua reveals his hopes and fears for 2014
Anthony Joshua is driven by a fear of failure as he pursues his ambitious plans for the future.
By Richard Damerell
The 24-year-old heavyweight started a new chapter this year, leaving behind the Great Britain boxing squad after achieving his ultimate goal of gold at last summer's Olympics.
Joshua matured mentally and physically under the watchful eye of his team GB coaches, but must plot his own path in the professional ranks.
He introduced himself to his new rivals with a ruthless knockout of Emanuele Leo on debut in October and two further foes were halted in crushing fashion.
A minor shoulder injury briefly stalled his swift progress, but Joshua will return on February 1st and is planning a frenetic 12 months, with up to 10 fights in total.
There is plenty of expectation surrounding Joshua and the amateur star has revealed how he is haunted by thoughts of a first defeat.
When asked if he feared any future opponents, Joshua told Sky News: "No just failure. I hold the key to my own destiny in boxing and it's just failing really at what I could have got right. That's why I've got to put everything into it.
"A defeat, it will be tough. The World Championships as an amateur I came second by one point and I was thinking last week how that ate me up. I was thinking if I lost and when someone straight after said: 'how do you feel you performed?' I don't know how I would mentally cope with that, because you put everything into what you're doing and you just don't expect to lose.
"It's just failure that worries me, not any opponent, just failure."
Joshua thrives on competition and has not enjoyed his break from boxing. Time away from the ring gave him the chance to reflect on his main priorities and he is more single-minded than ever about becoming a future champion.
"Activities are key for me. Slowing down now - it's not depressing - it just puts things into perspective, like I haven't got anything else left to live for.
"This is what I really enjoy doing, this is what I want to do.
"Next year, February 1st, is the start of a new journey. I'm going to fight for five months, predicting that I win a bout as I go. I'm going to just crack on and train. I'm supposed to be resting, but I'm training. I don't have anything else left to live for and this is what I love to do."
Outside of the ropes, Joshua exudes a calm demeanour, showing none of the aggressive tendencies that he displays in the heat of battle.
But Joshua dismisses suggestions that he is maybe too nice and will show his nasty side if an opponent chooses to provoke him.
"As a competitor and a fighter, pride comes in and if someone disrespects you, you don't back down," he said.
"No-one disrespects me. Everyone I meet is friendly so I have no reason to be negative towards them. If someone brings that character out of me, you'll see the worst of me.
"People see the best of me because they approach me with respect I show them respect and you treat people how you want to be treated."
Another Olympic medallist Deontay Wilder, who took bronze in 2008, has caused a stir in the top division with a streak of 30 stoppage wins.
The American demolished another GB gold winner, Audley Harrison, inside the first round in April, as he continued his march towards a world title shot.
Joshua is willing to face the fearsome puncher once he rises up the rankings, but firstly must test his skills in a thriving domestic division, topped by the likes of Tyson Fury, Dereck Chisora and David Haye.
"If Wilder is champion and I progress to where I plan to, then I could probably see me and him competing sometime in the future," said Joshua. "You can only beat who is in front of you and he's doing it in spectacular fashion.
"I don't want to jump overseas and look at Wilder and these guys. Obviously I do study them and I'm very familiar with Wilder and American opponents, but there is a high level of competition in Britain right on my doorstep to conquer to become British champion and European champion."
Ukrainian brothers Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko had a tight grip on the division for many years after collecting all of the world titles.
But Vitali recently released the main WBC belt to pursue a career in politics and Joshua hopes to make a name for himself in the new heavyweight era.
The London hero of last summer has stepped onto the big stage in 2013, with an audience awaiting his rise or fall, and he intends to bring more glory to British boxing in the years ahead
"I feel there's a big gap, especially being a British fighter and a good competitor," he said.
"A good challenger, contender can come through and rise up the ranks. Bring some stardom back to British boxing and heavyweight boxing. The Klitschkos have dominated for so long.
"I've got a chance to create my own history. That's what I'm working towards."