Anthony Joshua MBE expects the toughest test of his professional career on July 12 when he faces Matt Skelton at the Echo Arena in Liverpool live on Sky Sports.
Joshua has raced to 6-0 with all six wins coming inside the first two rounds and now the Olympic gold medal star steps into his first scheduled eight-round contest against the former British, European and Commonwealth champion and World title challenger.
Skelton has amassed 36 pro fights and stands just shy of 200 rounds, and while Joshua is preparing for a tough fight, he says he will not be taking silly risks to prove his chin can take a punch at the top level.
“People are asking ‘what’s his chin like?’ said Joshua. “Well, I’m not going to stick it out there to be hit by Skelton so people can find out. Every fight is a dangerous fight at Heavyweight and the sensible thing his not to get hit. Carl Froch said that the greatest chin is the one that doesn’t get hit and he’s right. At the minute it’s about evading shots and working my way up the rankings. I am so far away from where I want to be that it’s hit and not get hit, hands up and chin down, slipping shots and get my opponent out of there as soon as possible.
“Mike Tyson knocked out 12 of his first 16 opponents in the first round – people were saying in his early days that he needed more rounds and he had to step up, obviously there be questions on the way and as long as I come up with the answers then that’s all that matters.
“Matt is my toughest test in the pros, there’s no doubt about that. I hope he’s training hard so that we can put on a good show in Liverpool, it’s my first fight in the city and it’s on a great bill so I’m looking forward to a really big night and looking to put in a performance worthy of the stage.
“I am sure he’s going to come to make a statement and he’s certainly a different type of challenge, he’ll be sitting on my chest, putting pressure on me and throwing shots and testing my chin so I have had some new things to work on in the gym and that’s what it is all about for me, working on the inside, working on my defence and my counters and looking to keep it long and using the double jab.”
Joshua’s clash with Skelton is part of a massive night of action as Tony Bellew and Nathan Cleverly continue to move towards a rematch as they face their second fights at Cruiserweight against Julio Cesar Dos Santos and Alejandro Valori respectively.
Super Middleweight talents Rocky Fielding and Callum Smith look to add to their unbeaten records with fights against Noe Gonzalez Alcoba and Vladine Biosse, while Callum’s older brother Stephen keeps busy in an eight-round clash as he prepares to fight for a World title in the new season.
Joshua’s fellow Olympic heroes Luke Campbell MBE and bronze medallist Anthony Ogogo are in action with Ogogo tackling Sheffield’s Wayne Reed and Campbell’s opponent to be announced soon.
Unbeaten Liverpool Featherweight John Quigley is in his 13th fight on the bill which is completed by former Team GB starlet Gamal Yafai and unbeaten Cambridge Lightweight Tommy Martin.
Tickets are on sale priced £30, £40, £60 and ringside seats at £100 available from the Echo Arena on 0844 8000 400 and at www.echoarena.com