The esteemed trainer Emmanuel Steward once remarked that the sport of boxing is 'an easy road full of despicable turns'. It's an adage that remains an undeniable truth. The life of a boxing contender may seem a stroll in the park to most casual observers but sooner or later at the business end of the sport the heat ramps up and people in the opposite corner start to fire leather back. It's only then when the true nature of the beast or the submissive is revealed.
Which brings us to Saturday night at the O2 Arena when heavyweight contender Anthony Joshua faces his most difficult opponent to date in fellow countryman and heavyweight Dillian Whyte. Whilst Joshua's opponents so far have sometimes resembled the type of overweight men you see in the back row of an auction on Flog it, his credentials are clear. An Olympic gold medal in the London games at super heavyweight and an exemplary professional record thus far has made sure that whatever critical barbs have been fired his way, they've been whispered rather than reached a bitter crescendo.
But now a test comes catcalling and an interesting one at that. In the opposite corner, Dillian Whyte may be the underdog but he has certain omens on his side. Already having defeated Joshua at amateur level may not seem hugely significant to most on the outside of the sport but in the realms of the sweet science the psychology of such a win can prove a handy tool in getting under an opponents skin. It's been noticeable that the usually friendly Joshua has been showing a more aggressive side in the lead up to the fight. An ebullient and fractious press conference where both fighters had to be separated by security staff may have been nothing new in the build up to such a contest - but it had a feel of the nefarious rather than the pantomime about it. The reality is both men can't stand the sight and want to knock pieces off each other.
It all boils down to the pressure of expectation and the execution of class of course. If Joshua is as good as we think he is, then the fight against Whyte will just be his first baptism of fire in his triumphant march to the world title. But who is say with an unbeaten record in the opposite corner - that role reversal can't see Whyte walking into the hallowed lands too. It's certainly more balanced a contest than we've seen in a British ring for a while and with fighters like Tommy Hearns and Deontay Wilder both tipping Whyte for victory - there is more than a fair chance of an upset on the cards. In fact the reality might be that the balanced view of the outcome is no more than 50/50.
If pushed for a personal prediction I'd actually be slightly on the side of a Whyte win in fact. The lopsided nature of Joshua's opponents and the feeling that his promoters have wrapped him in cotton wool is not the best preparation for a puncher like Whyte, who may not have the hype, a gold medal or a pr team around him, but I've the feeling has the brute strength to club his way to victory.