Less than two years out from the London Olympics the prospect of finding a super-heavyweight to follow in the golden footsteps of Lennox Lewis and Audley Harrison looked bleak.
A series of big men had tried and failed to make an impression at the Great Britain podium squad's training camp in Sheffield, and a 21-year-old untested prospect called Anthony Joshua had been suspended pending the outcome of a drugs charge.
While his future opponents were battling it out on the world-class stage in the build-up to London, Joshua was helping elderly people tend to their allotments as part of his 100 hours of community service.
It had always been assumed London 2012 would come too soon for Joshua, who only took up boxing at Finchley Amateur Boxing Club in 2007, cajoled down by a cousin who wanted to keep him out of trouble.
It was 6ft 6ins Joshua's sheer size as much as anything that helped him make an early impression, rising through the ranks to win his first ABA title in 2010 with a first round knockout of the Isle of Man's Dominic Winrow.
Later that same year, Joshua outpointed his domestic rival Amin Isa to win the GB title; a win which secured his position as number one in the +91kg weight category and ensured his promotion to the podium squad.
Joshua's career was put on hold in early 2011 when he confessed to possession of cannabis. Yet his suspension was not widely seen as a knockout blow to his Olympic hopes simply because his chances of reaching London had already been slight.
Suitably reprieved, Joshua reached the quarter-finals of the European Championships on his major debut, before coming of age at the World Championships in Baku, where he won the silver medal after a 13-12 final defeat to home fighter Magomedrasul Majidov.
Joshua's sudden emergence included a magnificent points win over Italian reigning champion Roberto Cammarelle, and carried the added bonus of ensuring his qualification for the Olympics.
His path to glory in London was fraught with difficulties. Handed a nightmare opening bout against Cuba's rising star Erislandy Savon, some considered Joshua fortunate to emerge as the winner by a single point.
Subsequent wins over top contenders Zhilei Zhang and Ivan Dychko carried Joshua into a final rematch against Cammarelle where, amid tumultuous scenes at ExCel, he rallied in the final round to clinch the gold medal on a razor-thin countback verdict.
Joshua soaked up the adulation and stayed out of the ring for a year, considering his future as top promoters across the world clamoured for his signature.
Awarded the MBE in 2013 for services to boxing, Joshua finally confirmed the worst kept secret in the sport when he signed for Eddie Hearn's Matchroom organisation, and began looking forward to his professional debut on October 5.