Hasim Rahman does not expect Anthony Joshua to make the same mistakes Lennox Lewis made when he faced him 18 years ago.
Back in 2001, Rahman caused one of the biggest upsets in boxing history when he knocked out Lewis in the fifth round in Brakpan, South Africa.
With that win, ‘The Rock’ took the Brit’s WBC, IBF, IBO and lineal titles, but would lose them in an immediate rematch, when he was viciously defeated by Lewis in four.
Joshua, the IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight champion, will defend his titles against replacement Andy Ruiz Jr on June 1 in Madison Square Garden.
Many felt an under-prepared Lewis was looking beyond Rahman and had his sights set on a mega fight with Mike Tyson, which did eventually take place the following year, while he was also occupied filming Ocean’s Eleven.
However, while Joshua has insisted he wants to face WBC champion Deontay Wilder next, Rahman believes the three-belt holder will get the job done on his US debut.
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“From what I’ve seen, he is a consummate professional. He will not take Ruiz Jr lightly, and he will come through in dramatic fashion,” Rahman told Sky Sports.
“Joshua has so much more on the line. Boxing in the heavyweight division is so different to when Lennox was defending his titles. Anthony knows what is at stake, and he doesn’t want to mess up potentially the biggest undisputed fight ever. He doesn’t want to jeopardise that.”
Rahman, who is helping guide the career of rising contender Michael Hunter, believes Joshua must match the performance of Wilder, who dispatched Dominic Breazeale in one round last week.
“With the performance that Deontay Wilder [put in against Dominic Breazeale], Joshua has to at least match that. It’s a must. He has to.
“If he goes the distance with Ruiz Jr, it will make things harder at the negotiating table. Deontay has done his part.”