Anthony Joshua's first opponent admits he knew nothing about the British heavyweight star

"I said yes, but in truth I was asking myself who is he?"

Anthony Joshua, Emanuele Leo
Image: Italy's Emanuele Leo faced Anthony Joshua in October 2013

Anthony Joshua's first opponent has revealed that he knew nothing about Britain's heavyweight star ahead of their fight at The O2.

The Olympic gold medallist started his professional career against Emanuele Leo, an unbeaten Italian, at the London venue in October 2013, and Joshua has since become a two-time world champion, who currently holds the WBA, IBF and WBO titles.

But ahead of Joshua's debut in the paid ranks, Leo told Sky Sports that he took the fight before finding out any details about The Team GB hero.

How did you become Joshua's first opponent?

I got to know boxing when I was 23 and I had never followed it before, and to be honest, I kept not following it.

I loved practising the sport and understanding the difference between practising boxing and being a boxer.

So when they told me about Joshua and The O2, I said yes, but in truth I was asking myself who is he? And where is it?

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Anthony Joshua, Eddie Hearn
Image: Britain's Olympic champion started his pro career on a big stage at The O2

What were your first impressions of Joshua?

I got to London and met Anthony, a really polite and gentle guy, but he had a host of professionals following him, including fitness coaches, masseurs, trainers etc.

What did you learn from your defeat at The O2?

I started boxing late and progressed very quickly, but I burned out in the last stage of my journey, as I finally understood the massive difference between boxing in Italy and in the rest of the world.

I also learned that a real man doesn't look for excuses but finds solutions, so I would like to fight Joshua again.
Emanuele Leo

Would you do anything differently if you fought Joshua again?

I didn't enjoy the financial security that would allow me to train only.

I also learned that a real man doesn't look for excuses but finds solutions, so I would like to fight Joshua again.

Can you explain why your boxing career has stopped since that night?

Now I'm a steelworker and I'm in love, I feel good and I'm sure I can do better.

Joshua's verdict on Emanuele Leo

Anthony Joshua
Image: Joshua celebrated a stoppage win in the first round

"It was like two guys just coming out with their heart on their sleeve, trading, and I really enjoyed it," Joshua told Sky Sports after his successful debut.

"You could see he was game, he could take a shot, he's got a winner's mentality.

"Eight and 0, that's what he's in the game to do is win, and to do what I done, it's just the start."

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