Anthony Joshua is on course to realise his ambition of fighting in Las Vegas having finally secured a United States visa despite his previous drugs conviction.
The IBF heavyweight champion, who is scheduled to fight Wladimir Klitschko at Wembley Stadium on April 29, had until recently remained in doubt over his chances of returning to Sin City after his 2011 arrest in England for possessing cannabis and intent to supply the drug.
He was then suspended from the Team GB boxing squad, sentenced to a 12-month community order and 100 hours’ unpaid work, and left to fear his dreams of headlining in Vegas were dead.
Despite the prospect of a crowd of 90,000 – a post-war record for a fight in Britain – attending his April date with one of the finest heavyweight champions in history, it is the thought of the bright lights of Vegas that Joshua has been seduced by.
Before his conviction he fought there as an amateur for Team GB, but even amid enjoying the luxury of a private jet to and from Cologne for Wednesday’s press conference with Klitschko, following Floyd Mayweather and Mike Tyson is what holds the most appeal.
“I had to go to the embassy like everyone else, queue up and wait around all day,” said Joshua, 27, who recently visited New York with Klitschko to promote April’s fight. “It was a long day.
“I had to get a lawyer to get all the paperwork done so it was a long process but we got there in the end.
“I had long meetings about my visa. I haven’t been there on holiday yet but it meant a lot to me to get it. They accepted me in even though it’s harder to get into countries at the moment.
“To have my visa is a big thing.
“The (anti-Donald Trump) protesters (at the airport) didn’t exactly cheer me in but they were there doing their bit. I just kept my head down and carried on walking.”
The private jet that took Joshua to Germany on Wednesday was the latest demonstration of the remarkable progress he has made since his occasionally-troubled adolescent years, even if he has no desire to own one.
It was a similarly rebellious streak that ensured he remained in Vegas casinos until the early hours when he was scheduled to fight the next day, and that contributed to planting the seed of his chief ambition.
“We were out in the casino the night before until about 2am, the bright lights and all that got us,” he said. “Then my coach caught us and went mad. But we boxed the next day and won.
“We were just a bunch of amateurs pulled in from the casino the night before to fight.
“All the big names were there, these guys are just out and about in Vegas. None of them tried to sign me because I was just a skinny little kid at the time.
“Mayweather and Tyson did big nights there: Vegas for me rings more bells.
“I boxed in Vegas as an amateur and I won.
“Vegas is my big dream. Everyone wants to go there.
“(And) it’s not my jet – do you know how much it cost: £13million!”