Anthony Joshua 22-1 (21) has been taking advice from former heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko ahead of his IBF, WBA and WBO title rematch with Andy Ruiz Jr 33-1 (22) in Saudi Arabia on December 7.
Mexican-American Ruiz Jr, 30, caused a boilover in June when he stopped Joshua in seven rounds at New York’s Madison Square Garden to be crowned unified heavyweight champion.
Joshua knocked out Klitschko in 11 rounds at London’s Wembley Stadium in 2017 and the two boxers have remained in contact ever since.
“He said loads of stuff to me, Wlad was definitely ahead of the game. He’s more disciplined than me, he’s more diplomatic,” Joshua told British media.
“He was giving me dietary and training advice and that is maybe what people are talking about now when they see a difference in my body. Maybe that’s why – because I’ve adapted some of his teaching – my weight may fluctuate.”
The 30-year-old Briton was dropped four times by Ruiz Jr in their first bout but insisted on enacting the immediate rematch clause in their fight contract.
Despite the magnitude of the rematch, Joshua insists the fight is about much more than the world championship belts.
“There’s nothing I’ve missed about being world champion,” Joshua said. “I’ve always said the belt should never define the man. I walked as a champion before I even had a belt.
“This is fighting. One loss doesn’t take the spots off a cheetah. We don’t play games when it comes to boxing, we’re serious and after I took the loss I’ve had time to reflect.
“I now have things to prove to myself. I want to take it more seriously because I’m going to that next level.”
Joshua said it was difficult to get quality sparring in the past, but the loss has made it easier to encourage better boxers to come into camp.
“Klitschko told me this would happen, he said he could only get good sparring after he’d lost,” he said.
“It’s ended up being a blessing because everyone wants to come to the gym now and see what it’s all about. When we lace the gloves up now there is no holding back.”
Joshua’s sparring partners for this camp have included Timothy Moten, Dereck Chisora, Albon Pervizaj, Bryant Jennings and Andrew Tabiti.
“Sparring is important because it is the closest thing you can get to the fight,” said Joshua. “They throw everything at me, 12 rounds with five different people back-to-back and I’m dealing with every shot coming at me.”
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