Joshua raring to go against Savon

31 July 2012 / 16:54

Anthony Joshua could hardly have hand-picked a more heavyweight name to be standing in the opposite corner of the boxing ring when he makes his Olympic Games debut in his home city on Wednesday night.

Joshua was just two years old when the great Felix Savon won his first of three consecutive Olympic heavyweight titles in Barcelona in 1992, and Savon's nephew Erislandy Savon is intent on living up to his family's fistic legend.

But Joshua, now 22, who came from relative obscurity to claim a silver medal at the World Championships in Baku last year - losing by a point to Magomedrasul Medzhidov, who had stopped Savon in an earlier round - is unfazed by his high-profile engagement.

The Finchley super-heavyweight said: "I have not boxed against Savon before but I have watched him on video and as you would expect of a Cuban, he is a top boxer so I am going to have to perform at my best to get past him.

"I just want to get started now. I've been in the arena to watch my team-mates and the atmosphere is amazing, so I can't wait to get in there and sample it for myself. Hopefully as a Londoner, the crowd will get behind me and give me an extra edge."

Joshua's status sky-rocketed after his success in Azerbaijan, as the Great Britain team's long search for a big man to fill the mighty shoes of the likes of Lennox Lewis and Audley Harrison seemed to have come to an end.

But while head coach Rob McCracken is keen to deflect the weight of expectation being heaped on Joshua's shoulders, he also admits that his charge's inexperience could prove helpful against a fighter from a nation with such a peerless boxing tradition.

McCracken said: "Felix Savon was a tremendous fighter but this is a different Savon. He's a good boxer with a very good future in front of him. But Anthony is bigger than Savon and hopefully he can start at a good pace and come out and perform.

"Anthony is new to the sport so he won't read too much into Savon's family history. The more experienced boxers tend to know each other inside-out. But Anthony is still very new, he is like a breath of fresh air and that will work in his favour."

Joshua's bout with Savon is the last bout of a strong evening session on Wednesday which also sees Hull bantamweight Luke Campbell begin his medal quest against Italy's Jahyn Parrinello. Ireland's John Joe Nevin is also in action.