Anthony Joshua v Kevin Johnson
Anthony Joshua faces the toughest test of his short career to date against confident veteran Kevin Johnson at the O2 ArenaGetty Images

2012 Olympic gold medalist and great heavyweight prospect Anthony Joshua takes the next step of his fledgling professional career with a bout against veteran Kevin Johnson as part of the 'Rule Britannia' card headlined by Kell Brook v Frankie Gavin at London's O2 Arena.

Where to watch

Joshua v Johnson - and indeed the entire card - is available to watch live on Sky Box Office HD, with events scheduled to commence at approximately 1700 BST on 30 May.

This fight is the pre-cursor to the main event on a bumper night of action, so we estimate it will get underway at approximately 2100 although that is obviously subject to change.

Overview

Following 12 extremely predictable and straightforward victories, Joshua faces unquestionably his toughest test to date against a fighter who boasts considerable experience and has never previously been knocked out in 36 fights.

Johnson, originally scheduled to face the powerful 25-year-old in late January but for the latter's back injury, has appeared very keen to attempt to unsettle Joshua in the build-up to this rescheduled bout but his constant trash talk is unlikely to have the desired impact and has thus far been taken in relatively good spirits.

The American has a reputation for durability and took Vitali Klitschko the distance in 2009. However, his more recent form has left a lot to be desired and five defeats from his last six fights are indicative of a declining career that surely does not have much longer left to run.

What they have said

Anthony Joshua: "I work a lot on my skills and technique. My whole boxing career's not just based on raw power - if that was the case I'd be in a bodybuilding gym. My coach has worked time and time again in the gym with me, telling me if I throw my jab this way I'm going to get countered.

"I just want to make sure I don't make any mistakes, because if I make mistakes with a fighter like Kevin Johnson - who I'm not underestimating - I will get punished. My job is to do the punishing, not to get punished.

"It took me a year to turn pro and I predicted all these things happening. We're a bit ahead of schedule - not with the opponents but with the trash-talking. It comes with the territory, and if I can't handle it I'm definitely not in the right game."

Kevin Johnson: "Half the fight I'm going to fight with my hands down - he don't have no power. Mark my words - that'll be the way the fight will go. I don't need my hands up. He doesn't have no power to hurt me. Guaranteed.

"This will be so easy. This'll be like a nursery rhyme. Mary had a little lamb. Humpty Dumpty sat on the wall. Jack and Jill went up the hill. This is one of those. When he wants to see power, he's going to feel my power. For the first time in his career, he's going to feel power and he's going to get beat.

"This is going to be the best fight of the night. This is going to be the best heavyweight fight that's been seen for 13 years exactly.

"If he is who he claims to be, then this is going to be the best heavyweight fight. It's going to be a quick one because apparently he's a knockout artist... but apparently I'm 100 per cent, so apparently I'm not getting knocked out.

"If I was at 20 per cent I'm not getting knocked out, so what do you think at 100 per cent? I'm gonna make change of somebody."

Records

Joshua - 12 fights, 12 wins (12 via knockout)

  • (W) - Raphael Zumbano Love - technical knockout - May 2015
  • (W) - Jason Gavern - knockout - April 2015
  • (W) - Michael Sprott - technical knockout - November 2014

Johnson - 36 fights, 29 wins (14 via knockout)

  • (L) - Manuel Charr - unanimous decision - April 2014
  • (L) - Dereck Chisora - unanimous decision - February 2014
  • (L) - Christian Hammer - unanimous decision - December 2013

Prediction

While Johnson is a clear step up from all Joshua's previous opponents and should provide a sterner test of the Briton's undeniably impressive credentials, it is impossible to see anything other than a comfortable victory for the home favourite here.

It would be nice to see Johnson box for more than just a couple of rounds and to witness how exactly he might handle a tough contest in the latter rounds, but I still do not anticipate this one progressing past the halfway stage.

Joshua via a fifth-round stoppage.

Rest of the card

  • Kell Brook v Frankie Gavin
  • Kevin Mitchell v Jorge Linares
  • Lee Selby v Evgeny Gradovich
  • Nathan Cleverly v Tomas Man
  • John Ryder v Nick Blackwell
  • Scott Cardle v Craig Evans
  • Dave Ryan v John Wayne Hibbert
  • Lucien Reid v Elemir Rafael

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