Anthony Joshua, the 2012 British Olympic super heavyweight gold medalist and perhaps boxing's No. 1 heavyweight prospect, returns to action on Saturday at the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle, England.
The fight is a scheduled eight-rounder against journeyman Jason Gavern. Joshua is expected to win with ease and move on to an already scheduled bout with former world title challenger Kevin Johnson (29-6-1, 14 KOs) on May 30.
Saturday's fight isn't so much about Joshua getting any serious competition from Gavern, who has faced numerous top opponents but never beaten any of them. This is all about seeing how his back is following a stress fracture. Joshua (10-0, 10 KOs), 25, who last fought in November, was supposed to fight Johnson in January but had to delay the fight because of the injury.
"I was on a roll and there was great momentum, but I think I can pick that up again," Joshua said. "I wanted to fight but people were telling me not to and, of course, they were right. It will be great to fight in another massive city in the U.K. I expect the atmosphere is going to be fantastic, the fans up there love their sport and I am really looking forward to doing my thing for them."
Joshua said he began to have some problems with his back in October.
"Heavyweights have big muscles to support your bones, so when it happened the muscles tensed up around the bone when I was training," he said. "I took two weeks off after the [Michael] Sprott fight [in November], the muscles relaxed and I didn't realize it was a bone injury. I thought it was the muscle that was hurting. I got it checked and they said it was a stress fracture. I wanted to carry on training but had I done that it would have got worse and it could have even turned into a chronic injury.
"You have to have great rehabilitation with an injury like that. I got back in the gym ahead of schedule but an injury that could have been a chronic one has been solved by eight weeks of rest. It's not frustrating because when things are going well, there are always going to be hiccups. I had a broken hand and that healed up 100 percent, the fractured back has healed up too. These things are going to happen. It's how you deal with them. You have to stay positive, be smart, listen to the advice of the medial experts and pick up the momentum again and continue on the path I am on."
Joshua's fight with Gavern (26-19-4, 11 KOs) is on a card headlined by Anthony Nelson against Jamie Wilson for the vacant Commonwealth junior bantamweight title.