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Anthony Joshua warns rivals: “I have improved since Wladimir Klitschko”

Anthony Cocks

Australian-based boxing journalist Anthony Cocks has been covering the sport for over 15 years for various print and online publications. He refuses to believe that Roberto Duran ever lost to Tommy Hearns and says that Jeff Fenech would destroy Chuck Norris, Bruce Lee and Muhammad Ali on the same night.

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Unified heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua 22-0 (21) has warned rivals Tyson Fury 27-0-1 (19) and Deontay Wilder 40-0-1 (39) that he is only getting better and they risk facing a better version of him they longer they wait to fight.

The 29-year-old IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight champion, who is scheduled to defend his titles against Andy Ruiz Jr at Madison Square Garden on June 1, said his style has evolved since his breakthrough win over former champion Wladimir Klitschko two years ago.

“I’ve got through with strength, guts and heart,” Joshua said to BBC Radio 5 Live boxing. “I’ve got away with mistakes. I realised I couldn’t continue my journey like that.

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“After Klitschko, I thought ‘how many more fights can I have like that before the mistakes aren’t there anymore?’

“For the last two years, hand on heart, with my team, we spend so much time doing things outside of boxing, things that can drain me.

“How do we now train smart to become smarter in the ring? Less quantity, more quality. It didn’t happen overnight. It has taken two years to implement it and this is the first camp we are really seeing it.

“Look at my last fight against Alexander Povektin. I was ill, tired, had a flu, had a headache. I was going through changes. It will be interesting as this is the first time, I can express these things.

“The longer Wilder and Fury leave it, the tougher it will be for them as I am not the fighter of two years ago. Give me another year or two and I’ll develop that little bit more.”

Joshua admits it can be difficult striking a balance between smart boxing and being an entertainer in the ring.

“Sometimes I’m sparring now and yesterday I was tired so I thought I’d work on not getting hit,” continued Joshua.

“Then I thought to myself, is it a bit boring as people want to see us going out there entertaining? The sweet science and the entertainment – how do you meet that in the middle?

“I can’t just go in there and display a good jab. They want to see something a bit more aggressive.”

Joshua’s coach Rob McCracken said they have insisted on using a dedicated gym in the US to train in to ensure they can maintain their routine and avoid outside distractions as the big Brit prepares for his all-important American debut.

“You have to work with big Josh – some people train at 5pm every day, you can’t do that with him as you have to work with his energy levels,” McCracken told BBC Radio 5 Live boxing.

“The hardest part of the camps are sparring and running. He has to run as he’s a big guy and needs to move his legs in fights so therefore has to do an element of running. A lot of heavyweights don’t run, he does.

“Sometimes we move sparring days if he doesn’t feel great. It’s me that has to persuade him.

“As he’s gone on though he has more experience. He was so keen when starting out that he’d tell you a white lie. As he has learned the game and knows it’s not too good to be in the ring if you’re exhausted from the schedule.

“He’s sensible now and says ‘I’m absolutely shattered’.”

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