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Veteran Johnson to test heavyweight prospect Joshua

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Heavyweight prospect Anthony Joshua, right, takes on veteran Kevin Johnson on Saturday. Scott Heavey/Getty Images

If only heavyweight Kevin Johnson could fight as well as he talks. Johnson is an outstanding trash talker, but his problem is he rarely can back it up.

He is at it again as he prepares to take on Anthony Joshua, the 2012 British Olympic super heavyweight gold medalist and the No. 1 heavyweight prospect in boxing. They will meet in a scheduled 10-round bout on Saturday at the O2 Arena in London on a loaded card.

The question many have is not over whether the 25-year-old Joshua (12-0, 12 KOs) will beat Johnson (29-6-1, 14 KOs), 35, of Atlanta. It is whether he will he knock out the former world title challenger, whose best attribute other than his mouth is an iron chin. Johnson, who went the distance with then-heavyweight titleholder Vitali Klitschko in a one-sided fight in 2009, has never been stopped or even badly hurt.

At the very least, many think Johnson, who has lost three fights in a row and four of his past five, will go rounds with Joshua, who needs them, considering he has never been past the third round.

However long Johnson lasts, his prefight talk is amusing.

“He is a media hype job,” Johnson said of Joshua. “And let me tell you this: Once this dude is out the way, I’m going to show you that the future of the heavyweight division is right here. I’ve said it before -- I’ve got the antidote for this guy. It’s something all of these amateur Olympic guys have in them. You’ll see come Saturday. That’s all I’m going to say on that.

“I’ve been here for two months now and not remotely homesick. I’m hungry for something, and I know what I’m about to get. My training has been in a highly classified location. We been keeping everything under wraps and under the hat, so nobody know about that. We don’t want to be scaring people off.”

Johnson went on, as he usually does.

“I’ve been ready for two weeks,” he continued. “Let me tell you this: I’ve been a pro since 2003; this is the best shape and condition I’ve ever been in during my whole career. For the last two years I didn’t even train and I didn’t even care. The days of hurting my career are over. I blew it by not training and just turning up but not for this -- not for this right here.

“I’m going to give the fans exactly what they deserve, something I’ve had deep down inside of me. It’s taken for someone over here in the U.K. to bring that out of me. I’m not going to complain. Let me tell you how real it is: This preparation tops Vitali Klitschko preparation. That guy was then the biggest in the world. That was supposed to be your biggest preparation right there. For Vitali I was 60 percent. This [time] I’m 100 percent so I don’t know what else to say. I’m really afraid of myself to be at this point right here. I’m going to be explosive.”

The card is headlined by welterweight titlist Kell Brook (34-0, 23 KOs) making his second defense just two months after his first, when he meets British countryman Frankie Gavin (22-1, 13 KOs) in the main event.

There are also two other world title bouts on the card, which will be televised on Sky Box Office pay-per-view in the U.K.: lightweight titlist Jorge Linares (38-3, 25 KOs), of Venezuela, in his first defense, a mandatory, against quality British contender Kevin Mitchell (39-2, 29 KOs) and featherweight titlist Evgeny Gradovich (19-0-1, 9 KOs), of Russia, making his fifth defense against Wales’ Lee Selby (20-1, 8 KOs), the mandatory challenger.