Anthony Joshua can become an all time great, but never better than me, says Lennox Lewis

Gareth A Davies

Lennox Lewis believes Anthony Joshua could go on to be an all time great - but never as good as the brilliant heavyweight himself who dominated his era until he retired in 2003.

It was a genuine compliment from the last undisputed heavyweight champion of the world for the young fighter who faces his toughest challenge to date against Wladimir Klitschko on Saturday night at Wembley Stadium.

But the grand old ego in the great fighter, now 51, kept the hungry young lion on the leash. Admitting that he sees himself in Joshua, Lewis said at Fitzroy Lodge Boxing Club: "Absolutely yeah – the young, eagerness of what he's doing. He's trying to stay focused, realised that this is a big fight and that everybody is depending on him."

These are great times for Joshua, reckons Lewis. From his own memory of that time in his career, he added: "Everywhere he goes people recognise him and he's getting this adulation. Sponsors, people want things from him, money, interviews, this show and that show – these are all things that happened to me."

And Lewis is clearly impressed by the 27-year-old who went to see him in Montego Bay to ask his advice on turning professional after winning a gold medal at the London Olympics in 2012. "I had that determination and focus when I went in and lost," he said. "Things that I didn't predict would happen, did happen."

Britain's biggest ever boxing bouts

But could Joshua go on to be better than him ? A pause for thought. "Could he go on to be better than me? I don't think so," offered Lewis. "It's difficult for me to say another man is better than me. How I come to that conclusion is I look at my amateur career. I had an extensive amateur career which led into my professional career which allowed me to be better."

"AJ didn't have an extensive amateur career, it was only a short one. To me, there is a lot Anthony Joshua still needs to learn. As he goes on he will learn them but his trainers need to understand that too because each fight for him is a learning curve. You don't want to learn in important fights, you want to be prepared for them."

That is certainly the case against Klitschko. But if successful in this contest, and in subsequent fights, Lewis believes Joshua could be an all time great. "Yes, yes he can. He can do anything he wants. But saying it and doing it is two different things. We can say it but it's up to him to do it. Yes the potential is there."

New customer offer: Joshua to beat Klitschko enhanced to 25/1 by Coral - find out more

Anthony Joshua vs Wladimir Klitschko story gridRegisterLog incommenting policy

By using Yahoo you agree that Yahoo and partners may use Cookies for personalisation and other purposes