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I'm feeling the pressure, admits challenger Anthony Joshua

By Declan Warrington

Published 09/04/2016

Seconds out: Promoter Eddie Hearn looks on as Anthony Joshua and Charles Martin square up during the weigh-in at The O2 Arena yesterday
Seconds out: Promoter Eddie Hearn looks on as Anthony Joshua and Charles Martin square up during the weigh-in at The O2 Arena yesterday

Anthony Joshua has admitted to feeling intense pressure while preparing to challenge IBF heavyweight champion Charles Martin in London tonight.

The fight, at the O2 Arena, is only Joshua's 16th as a professional but comes after a decorated amateur career in which he won an Olympic gold medal and a promising period in which each of his previous 15 fights generated significant interest.

That he has long been considered the great hope of the heavyweight scene means he has had to progress while being a mainstream attraction and with the big audiences that regularly attracts.

For all that he has long been groomed for this platform, however, it comes as some surprise that his first world-title challenge has arrived so soon.

Martin is similarly inexperienced, which may explain why Joshua is already fighting at world level. Yet even as the favourite for tonight's fight and possessing a record of 15 stoppage wins, the 26-year-old has spoken of his struggle to sleep.

"Do you know what, some nights I haven't been sleeping," said Joshua. "I don't know why. It's not so much thinking about just the fight. Sometimes I might just be thinking about my boxing and how I can get better. I get a lot of pressure in the gym to get better so some nights I haven't been sleeping. But not this week, I've been okay this week but in camp (I've struggled).

"It has been a tough camp with a lot of pressure. My coach (Tony Sims) is something else, he works me very hard.

"What I like about (pre-fight build-up is) that it gives you an opportunity to build your nerves so that when Saturday comes, you've already learned how to deal with your nerves."

Defending champion Martin said: "You're always fine tuning after you turn professional.

"You get better and get better as you go and I know he ain't as calm and collected as me."

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