Johnny Nelson believes Anthony Joshua does not get the respect he deserves for progressing so quickly through his professional career.
The Brit returns to the ring this weekend to face mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev at the SSE Arena in Wembley where his WBA, WBO and IBF world heavyweight trinkets will be on the line.
Although it may seem incredulous, Joshua started boxing at the age of 18 and won Olympic Gold at the London Games in 2012.
Since then, he has continued to rack up victories as a professional and was a world champion in just his 16th bout when he knocked out Charles Martin in the second round of their IBF title clash.
Despite continuing to fight at the very highest level and having stopped Wladimir Klitschko, Alexander Povetkin and Dillian Whyte, there are those who doubt ‘AJ’ and believe he is the underdog for a potential unification fight with Tyson Fury.
‘The Gypsy King’ knocked out Deontay Wilder in February but, beyond that, Nelson believes more respect must be put on Joshua’s name for the calibre of fighters he is facing.
“No he doesn’t,” Nelson told talkSPORT.com. “You’ve got to look at the amount of champions or ex-champions he has boxed.
“Out of all them – including Tyson Fury – look at the calibre and the titles of the guys he has boxed.
“People just seem to forget that in an instance so I can imagine that frustration from AJ thinking.
“He must be thinking, ‘Hold on, look at all these champions I have boxed. Why are people ignoring this and making Fury a favourite when I have done this?’
“He’s not even boxed half the calibre of fighters Joshua has fought. Unfortunately, unless you do your homework and look in depth, you have to make up your own mind.
“Don’t be swayed by what is said on the microphone or what you read in the newspaper; be swayed by what you see, be swayed by fact, be swayed by what actually works.”
Fans have not seen Joshua fight in more than 12 months because of the pandemic, with his 12-round schooling of Andy Ruiz Jr in Saudi Arabia helping cement his legacy.
Despite the lack of action in the ring and a genuine fear Pulev could cause an upset on Saturday night, Nelson believes the lack of activity cannot be used as an excuse for either fighter after the final bell tolls.
“This lockdown has been a leveller for everybody,” he added. “Ring rust is no excuse for anybody.
“Because everybody is in the same position and it is not exclusive to any fighter; it’s the same for AJ as it is for Pulev.
“He’s not boxed for so long as well, so these guys have been training and sparring, they’re preparing and I’m quite sure all he could do was box and train with sparring partners.
“So the only difference is you’re doing it in public and this ring rust line can’t be used by any fighter because everybody is in the same position and the only difference is that you are not performing in front of a crowd.”