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Thursday, July 25, 2013
Anthony Joshua ready for 1st pro test

By Dan Rafael
ESPN.com

Anthony Joshua, the 2012 British Olympic super heavyweight gold medalist who signed a pro contract with Matchroom Sport promoter Eddie Hearn this week, met the media Thursday in London and vowed to work as hard in the pro ranks as he did in the amateurs.

"I'm so determined and so willing to sacrifice anything and everything to achieve my dreams," the 23-year-old Joshua said. "It's great to be back in the ring, and it's a privilege to debut at the O2. It's one of the best venues in the world."

Joshua, who will be trained by England's Tony Sims, will make his pro debut in a scheduled six-round bout Oct. 5 against an opponent to be determined at the O2 Arena in London. Hearn announced that in addition to Joshua's headline fight, the card will include lightweight contender Kevin Mitchell and up-and-coming featherweight Lee Selby.

After winning gold, Joshua was in heavy demand by promoters, but he took his time before deciding to turn pro and spent much of the past year meeting with various promoters and weighing offers before signing with Hearn.

"Eddie advised me to look at all the offers. I went around the world, took advice from champions and talked [things] through with the team," Joshua said. "Matchroom is the best place for me to go on the path I want to take. They've got a great stable of fighters, and it's great to box on Sky Sports."

Hearn has a deal that makes his company the exclusive promoter for fights on the widely distributed cable network Sky Sports in the United Kingdom. That means fighters in the Matchroom stable get the most U.K. television exposure, which is critical when it comes to building a star.

"I'd like to thank [amateur boxing club] Finchley ABC and [the Great Britain Olympic boxing team]," Joshua said. "They have backed me all the way, taking me from complete novice to world [amateur] No. 1 and Olympic gold. They have given me the foundations to move into the pro ranks, the basis to become No. 1 in the world [as a pro]."

Joshua joins Olympic teammate Luke Campbell, the bantamweight gold medalist at the London Games, in Hearn's stable. Hearn said the long chase for Joshua was worth the wait.

"Anthony is the perfect man to lift the sport of boxing in Britain even higher," Hearn said. "We have two gold medalists now in Anthony and Luke, [but] when a heavyweight wins a gold, they are a huge target. It's been a long process getting Anthony's signature, but it's been well worth it and he's got a great team and family around him. He was right to take his time and make the right decision.

"We will take Anthony forward at the right pace. Anthony is very grounded, and he understands the road ahead. He's achieved an incredible amount in 43 amateur fights, but what impresses me more about him is his mental capacity. He has a great head on those broad shoulders, and he won't be rushed."

Besides the Olympic gold, Joshua, who began boxing at age 18, won a silver medal at the 2011 world amateur championships. In the London Olympics, he won all four of his bouts. In the final, he defeated 2008 Olympic champion Roberto Cammarelle of Italy.