By Chris McKenna, courtesy of The Daily Star
ANTHONY JOSHUA will fight in front of almost 80,000 fans for the third time in a row.
While over a million Brits will tune in on TV, and even more will watch all around the world to see one of the biggest boxing stars in the world.
But the WBA, IBO and IBF heavyweight champion still believes there are plenty of people out there who want him to fail against WBO title holder Joseph Parker.
It comes with the territory of being popular. While many support you, there are many who would enjoy watching it all go wrong.
Not that he is bothered by it. In fact, he doesn’t care if he is not loved by all as long as those who helped him reach the top still respect him.
Ahead of the first heavyweight unification between two unbeaten fighters on UK soil, Joshua took an opportunity to look back on that journey from bad boy to the biggest name in British boxing.
He smiles when he is shown the picture he posted on Instagram on Monday night.
In it Joshua is stood with an axe in hand and a high-vis jacket on as he gets to work on some wood.
“I was on community service,” the London 2012 Olympic gold medallist said. “It was around 2011.
“Why did I post it? It's fight week, as things are looking towards the exciting times, it's good to look back at the struggle.
“It shows where you've come from, the journey you are on.
“The world is built on opposites isn't it – it's either success or failure, good or bad.
“It's good to show the comparisons really. This is where it began and it's never too late to start. That was 2011, a year or so before the Olympics.
“What would I say to that kid? What you see is what you can achieve.
“If you don't know there's a Range Rover out there you won't aspire to get one.
“I would just tell that kid to have a broader mind set and not focus on the estate or the community that you know.
“There's a whole world out there, there are people with a lot of knowledge so it's about broadening your horizons. Watford was everything to me back then.”
Joshua was on the community service after being sentenced for cannabis possession and his place on the GB Boxing team was under threat until performance director and his current coach Rob McCracken fought to get him back.
“I did think it was going to ruin boxing as a whole,” the 28-year-old said. “But boxing wasn’t that serious back then, it was just for fun.
“I wasn’t that kid from the block where everyone said, ‘Yeah, he’s going to be the next champion, let’s keep him out of trouble’. It was just boxing presented itself and I rolled with the punches.”
Walking into Finchley and District Boxing Club at the age of 18 with his cousin Ben Ileyemi would change the Watford-born fighter’s life forever.
He would soon stop drinking and smoking before turning his back on the life of crime and street fighting that once left him on remand in Reading and unwelcome around Watford town centre.
His mum, Yeta, would hear stories of her son causing trouble about town when they lived in Watford but when she got him to move to Golders Green in London and he found Finchley it started to change.
Boxing got him on the right path before Olympic glory and a professional career that has seen him earn close to £50m soon followed after navigating the speedbump of a drugs possession charge along the way.
It is maybe why he is more worried about maintaining the respect of the likes of Finchley coach Sean Murphy, his mum or McCracken than whatever some negative naysayers may say about him even if he has turned his life around.
Victory against New Zealander Parker will edge Joshua closer to becoming undisputed king of the heavyweight division should he then face WBC title holder Deontay Wilder.
So of course the obvious comparisons are starting to be made with the last man to ever reign as the true ruler of the heavyweight division and that is fellow Brit Lennox Lewis.
“It’s not my choice to dictate if I’m Britain’s best heavyweight,” said Joshua. “I’ve had more defences than Lewis’ first reign. Lewis lost in his fourth one.
“If you want to talk about facts and stats, that’s his stats which I’ve matched or beaten.
“I don’t make the choice, I don’t want to be blasé. I don’t pat myself on the back.
“I feel that everyone is waiting for you to fail. That’s why I look it that way.
“This is just the life I lead. That’s why it’s such a blessing to go back to Finchley when there are people who can’t go back to where they’re from because they’ve done a lot of wrong to people along the way.
“They end up living in their house on their own being bitter because they can’t go back to where they’re from and where people truly care about them.
“I’ve always kept it real and win or lose, these people respect me.
“That’s why I’m not trying to be the next record holder because I don’t need that status to have respect from the people I know, they respect me already.”
Joshua repays that respect at Finchley by speaking with the kids that train there now and Murphy will often point out ones that may be in danger of falling into trouble like he once did.
“Kids can feel like there's nothing out there for them,” he said. “Life is tough you know, I won't tell people it's easy.
“It's tough and the way the world is set up makes it difficult doesn't it. I do support a lot of kids, a lot of people, but you can only take them so far then it's up to them to do the rest.”
“It’s a journey, you have to go through it to learn it.”
Joshua hopes one day to turn Finchley into a bigger gym and make it iconic like Floyd Mayweather Jnr’s in Las Vegas so that it could help raise money not only to maintain itself but also help the community.
And while he is not bothered if he is loved by all, he would also like his own museum one day when he retires for those that do admire him to visit and to raise more money for charities.
“I’ve kept my wraps, the ring canvasses,” he added. “So people donate or pay to go in and have a look with TVs playing the fights. It would be for a foundation - like they did with Muhammad Ali.”
If Joshua claims his 21st win tonight and remains unbeaten then there will be a WBO belt to go alongside the WBA, IBO and IBF titles should that museum dream come true.