Anthony Joshua says Matt Skelton will be his toughest opponent since turning professional when the two go toe-to-toe on July 12 in Liverpool.
Joshua, who started his career at Finchley ABC, says the 47-year-old will provide him with his sternest test of his brief professional career to date.
Skelton, from Bedford, is 23 years Joshua’s senior and boasts of record of 28 wins – 23 by knockout – in 36 bouts.
And heavyweight Joshua, who beat Matt Leg in 83 seconds last month on the undercard of the Carl Froch v George Groves re-match, is wary of the threat Skelton poses.
“Matt is my toughest test in the pros, there’s no doubt about that,” Joshua told Sky Sports. “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.”
Watford-born Joshua has won each of his first six professional fights by knockout, never going beyond the first round but refutes the claim he needs more rounds in order to progress.
Joshua said: “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 will be questions on the way and as long as I come up with the answers then that’s all that matters.”