By James Slater: Retired heavyweight great Lennox Lewis, who saw an Olympic gold medal pave the way towards a sensational, mega-bucks pro career, said 22-year-old Anthony Joshua would be able to do the same as he did if he won Olympic gold at London 2012.
Well, Joshua did just that yesterday – with a controversial debatable points win over Italy’s defending Olympic champ Roberto Cammarelle; winning the 18-18-scored bout via the countback rule (Cammarelle has disputed the result: “I still don’t know why – even with the same score – I was the one to lose,” the Italian told Telegraph Sport. “I thought they would see that I was superior in the fight. I don’t know if my punch is invisible) – but he now says he has no plans to turn pro.
Speaking with the U.K media today (various sources), the super-heavyweight gold medallist says he “likes the sound of Rio 2016” and that he will look to gain more experience in the amateur ranks.
“This has never been about money,” Joshua said. “I will stay amateur for as long as possible. I quite like the sound of Rio 2016. If fame comes I’m okay with it, but I don’t want to be hyped up and made out to be something I’m not. I look at great amateur champions like Vasyl Lomachenko and how he just goes out there and gets the job done every time, and that’s the kind of attitude I want to have.
“If Great Britain can keep this team together (with fellow Olympian success stories like Luke Campbell and Fred Evans also showing incredible talent), we could be incredibly strong in Rio in four years time. We are in a position where we could dominate amateur boxing over the next four years.”
With all the money that could be made currently dangling in front of him (and rest assured, there will no doubt be a number of promoters calling Joshua up this week, trying to get his signature on a pro contract!), Joshua is showing amazing self discipline by sticking to his guns and opting to stay pro. And, as much as the heavyweight division of today would welcome with open arms a new star who can punch, Joshua has to be commended for deciding to stay amateur. And, as former Olympian Amir Khna has said, at age 22, Joshua has no need to rush. Come 2016, the 6’6” star will be still only 26: the same age Lewis turned pro at.
The money men want him now, but with TWO gold medals around his neck in 2016, Joshua’s signature would be worth even more cash! And the anticipation of his pro career would be so much greater.