Anthony Joshua wants world heavyweight title within four years

Anthony Joshua has said he hopes to be fighting for a heavyweight world title in four years or sooner, ahead of his professional debut on Saturday.

Joshua, who won super-heavyweight gold at the 2012 Olympics,  fights Italy's Emanuele Leo at London's O2 Arena.

"I've got the ability and the dedication to get there," Joshua, 23, told BBC Sport. "It's just how much pain I can take when I get in the ring.

Britain's heavyweight world champions

Lennox Lewis
  • Bob Fitzsimmons : The Cornishman beat American James J Corbett in Nevada on 17 March 1897 to become world heavyweight champion. Lost title to James J Jeffries in New York on 9 June 1899.
  • Frank Bruno: Beat Oliver McCall on points to claim WBC title on 2 September 1995. Lost in his first defence, when Mike Tyson knocked him out in third round on 16 March 1996.
  • Lennox Lewis (above): Last undisputed heavyweight champion. Awarded WBC belt when Riddick Bowe relinquished it in December 1992. Became undisputed champion by beating Evander Holyfield in November 1999.
  • David Haye : Outpointed giant Russian Nikolay Valuev to claim WBA title in November 2009. Lost belt to Wladimir Klitschko in July 2011.

Henry Akinwande and Herbie Hide held the WBO title when it was widely regarded as a fringe belt

"Hopefully we'll be competing for a title in four years' time."

Unusually, Joshua's first fight in the paid ranks will be over six rounds against an opponent unbeaten in eight fights.

However, Britain's last heavyweight world champion David Haye says his fellow Londoner should have no problems making the transition.

"He's Olympic champion, he's had the whole world looking at him and handled himself fantastically," said Haye.

"The pressure of pro boxing won't faze him at all, he's been fighting the best fighters in the world the last few years.

"He's got a big dig on him, he'll be blasting people out and the fact he's turned pro nice and early will allow him to build his style."

Joshua, who is being advised by former heavyweight world champion Lennox Lewis, added that he had been studying tapes of heavyweight greats.

"I've been watching Evander Holyfield, a bit of Ken Norton, Larry Holmes and Lennox Lewis," said Joshua. "They knew what they were doing in the ring.

"I applied some of Holyfield's tricks in sparring and it worked a treat.

"I was watching Norton versus Holmes and it's a great battle of two elite athletes going toe to toe, no man giving up.

"I'm not saying I want to be in a fight like that but I'd like to dominate opponents who think they can be in my category."