When Martin Bakole returns from the specialist food shop that sells African produce in his quaint Scottish village, he will flick through a deluge of personal well wishes and will expect to find one from Anthony Joshua.
The world champion is a “best friend” and a regular sparring partner but Bakole is eyeing the crown to the heavyweight division – he is no stranger to royal gold, having forsaken a life of sovereignty in Africa for the uphill battle as a boxing contender.
Bakole has just returned from the Democratic Republic of Congo where he became a father, welcoming another heir to his family’s regal bloodline. Now, back to the day job in a Scottish gym where he will continue chasing down Joshua.
“He could beat Joshua and Tyson Fury tomorrow, no problem,” beams Billy Nelson, the trainer and manager who discovered Bakole four years ago and tempted him to remain in a suburb of Airdrie, Scotland.
Bakole’s reputation as a heavyweight to keep an eye on is due to a string of explosive knockouts, his regular role sparring Joshua and the bold proclamations of Nelson.