BOXER Anthony Joshua last night vowed to resist big money offers to turn professional after giving Great Britain a fittingly triumphant finale to the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Joshua beat Italian Roberto Cammarelle in a dramatic super-heavyweight final at the ExCeL to claim Team GB’s 29th and final gold of an incredibly successful fortnight.
The Finchley 22-year-old was awarded victory on countback after judges had scored the bout 18-18, and then survived an appeal against the decision by Cammarelle’s camp.
Joshua, tipped as a future world heavyweight champion, is now certain to receive even more lucrative offers to turn pro, but insists he wants to continue cutting his teeth at amateur level and will not be tempted to change his mind purely by cash.
“I want to stay amateur for as long as possible,” said the latecomer to the sport who admits he was not interested in boxing at the time of the Beijing Games four years ago.
“I need more experience. I want to dominate everyone in the amateurs, become a world champion, become European champion —I would really love to do that. It was never about the money. My focus now is on getting better. I need to stay an amateur and focus on that.
“UK Sport funding is more than enough to get my physio and my travel. To leave something as great as the GB setup just for the money would be a big mistake. I didn’t grow up with loads of money around me anyway. I’ve learned to cope. These memories are priceless.”
Joshua, who wants world championship gold next year and is considering the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games and even the Rio Olympics in 2016, went into the last round trailing 13-10.
But he seized the initiative when it mattered most, landing some heavy blows to win 8-5 and secure Britain’s third boxing gold, and fifth medal, of the Games – the team’s best performance since 1920.
He added: “Sometimes you can do really well in the first and second round and give up in the third. I’ll never panic, I’ll just keep on pushing to the last bell. My legs were killing me but my mind wouldn’t stop and my arms were flying around.”
Former British Olympic super-heavyweight victors Lennox Lewis and Audley Harrison were ringside to witness Joshua’s triumph, as was world heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko of Ukraine, a gold medal winner at Atlanta in 1996.
Welterweight Fred Evans earlier claimed silver after being well beaten 17-9 by Kazakhstan’s Serik Sapiyev. Yesterday’s medals followed the golds for bantamweight Luke Campbell and women’s flyweight Nicola Adams, as well as bronze for middleweight Anthony Ogogo.