Those planning to watch Anthony Joshua fight American Dominic Breazeale tomorrow night are advised to get their toilet break in well before of the opening bell.
If the world heavyweight champion’s first IBF title defence at all resembles the bouts that preceded his crowning, it will be another blink-and-you’ll-miss-it contest.
Both fighters are unbeaten after a similar number of fights — Joshua has one fewer than his 30-year-old opponent — yet the Briton has only needed 34 rounds to dispatch his opponents, tornadoing through the division at an average of just two rounds per fight, while former American football player Breazeale had fought in 52 rounds at the same stage of his career.
Joshua meanwhile has been forced to go more than three rounds just once, when he knocked out Dillian Whyte in the seventh round late last year, Breazeale has done so on five occasions.
It is that brutal destruction of his opponents which has made Joshua the overwhelming favourite with bookmakers for tomorrow’s bout, the fulcrum of Sky Sports’ pay-per-view boxing platform and the fifth most marketable athlete in the world, according to SportsPro magazine.
Yet it is also why niggling questions remain over Joshua’s long-term ability to remain king of the world until it is revealed how he handles a fight that goes the distance, or a fighter who can successfully evade his blows and detonate bombs of their own.
Former world heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis was unequivocal when asked about Joshua’s current standing against fellow Brit Tyson Fury, who holds the three other world champion belts.
In contrast to Joshua, fellow Olympic gold medallist Lewis — regarded as one of the greatest British boxers of all time — had contested 56 rounds after 16 fights, while he went 80 rounds before winning a world title. As world champion, he successfully defended his belt five times over 12 rounds. It is a skill even knock-out artist Mike Tyson had to exhibit on three occasions in his career.
“Can Joshua box? No, because he hasn’t reached that level yet,” said Lewis this week.
“He hasn’t been taken deep into fights like Tyson Fury has. Fury has gone 12 rounds on his toes, so who’s better? You have to say Fury, right now. He [Joshua] will be taken the distance, because you can’t knock out everybody.”
If Breazeale is toppled in a similarly quick fashion to those who came before him on Saturday night at the O2 Arena, the Joshua brand will deservedly continue to swell as the clamour for a greater test, against Fury, continues to grow.