September 14, 2015
September 14, 2015
Gary Cornish

Lawrence Lustig

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ANTHONY JOSHUA’S path to world level has been unveiled. First he faces Dillian Whyte for the British heavyweight title on December 12. He’ll then target European champion Erkan Teper in March next 2016.

“British, European, that would be really good and then you go on to world,” Joshua said, after winning the Commonwealth title on Saturday (September 12).

The heavy-handed German did knock out David Price earlier this year but Anthony considers Teper “no different. Just another opponent”.

“He’s that European style. You’ve got boxing or you’ve got the ones that tuck up, walk forward and try and hit you with shots. It’s adapting. With someone like that you don’t want to box with your chin in the air moving back because they swing over the top. Defend and counter. Do it enough times, sooner or later they stop coming forward, you put him back. That’s what I’m saying, by the time Erkan Teper comes, I think I’ll be in a good place, boxing, in my mind, how to deal with someone like that so I’m sure it won’t be too difficult to defeat him,” Joshua continued.

Winning the European crown would put him on course for a world title shot next year. “You’ve accomplished what you’ve set out to do then. But whatever happens, whatever my team say, my job is be fit, be healthy, live the life, good promotion, make sure I’m ready, getting on great cards. Coaches and that make sure I get the right fights to build me to a world title shot. Everyone’s working together,” Joshua said.

“I’m trying, trying hard. What will be will be.”

That path is unlikely to see him tackle David Haye, who has for a while now been considering coming out of retirement. “We’re not looking at David Haye, we’re looking at progressing to a world title shot,” said Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn. “That’s a fight that has some novelty value at the moment, I think it’s one of the toughest fights for Anthony. David Haye is a great fighter. But we’re looking at world titles and getting through David Haye doesn’t really apply to that strategy.”

The clash with Dillian Whyte will generate interest. The Brixton man picked up a victory over his rival at a very early stage of their amateur careers and he would love to derail Joshua’s passage to world glory.

“He’s got his eye on the prize, that’s a dangerous fighter, someone who wants to beat me is a very dangerous fighter. I’m not looking above that. But I definitely would like to go on and achieve more than beating Dillian Whyte. So I’ve got to really focus on that, get him out the way and continue down the yellow brick road,” Anthony said. “Let me win a world title. My ambition’s a bit higher than Dillian Whyte. But I’ve got to focus on that fight. Trust me, I’m going to deal with that boy so then I can move on.”

Whyte already gleefully labeled Joshua a “fake” and a “good-behaving punk”, among other things, at a pre-fight press conference. The Olympic gold medallist insists he is not riled. “No, because I get to fight him in December,” Joshua said. “But bring it on, you’ll probably hear a bit more from me. The reason I don’t say much, I couldn’t overlook my fight with Cornish could I? My fight with Cornish was the most important thing and if you asked about Gary, I could answer it. Now if you ask about Dillian, because I’m fighting Dillian you’ll probably hear a lot more from me.”

Joshua dealt with the Highlander in style on Saturday. It was quick, Cornish only just made it into the second half of the first round but it wasn’t the fastest victory ever for an English heavyweight over a Scotsman – in 1949 Eddie Vann halted Glasgow’s George Stern in only 12 seconds.

Joshua may not be getting much time in the ring, but beyond the crowds he is putting the hours into training. “With me the more time I have in the gym, the more time I have in boxing, the more relaxed and better I get. I think moving forward, the less I get hit the better, and the more I’m hitting my opponent [the better]. Then I can move forward into tougher fights. Because if I get smashed up by these guys now, I don’t think we’ll be talking about the next step,” he said. “I have to do this to these guys to step up to world level.”

With the next fights being lined up, it’s a step he’s ready to take. “You get a date,” Joshua said. “Then you get to prove yourself.”