As he entered 2019, Anthony Joshua was looked at by many as the man to beat in the heavyweight division. Undefeated and holder of the IBF, WBA, and WBO titles, Joshua had proven himself to be a capable boxer and a big enough puncher to earn everyone’s respect.
Things came to a halt on June 1, when Joshua was upset by one-defeated Andy Ruiz Jr. Joshua suffered a seventh-round knockdown after absorbing four knockdowns, and his stock took a hit. Joshua rematches Ruiz on Saturday evening, in Saudi Arabia, and who knows what to expect honestly.
Joshua feels a bit different, almost like an underdog perhaps.
“It’s interesting to be on this side of the table, as you said in my 16th fight, I challenged for the world title, challenged for the title again with Klitschko, then Parker, and now I’m challenging again, so this is my fourth title challenge in a short space of time,” said Joshua. “I’m used to being in this position, and even when you’re champion, I think Andy being a respected heavyweight he knows you have to have the challenge and mindset.
“All these quotes that these fighters come up with is reality, challenger mindset,” Joshua added. “I’ve said that previously when I had the belts around my waist. Now I’m speaking this into existence, this is my challenge and mindset. So, I’m going back to my 16th fight, focused and determined on the goal.”
But what about pressure? Is the former champion feeling it a bit?
“I’ve been boxing a while now, and when I came into boxing, I didn’t really come to take part, I came to take over,” Joshua explained. “I came with full force, fully committed. The focus has already been there, but never had a chance to reflect. It was European Championships, Olympics Championships, British Title, World Championships. I’m not here to put on show I’m here to win. I’ve been around the block for a short space of time, so you have to understand I’m experienced and know what I’m doing.”
Joshua does admit that he had to do a little soul-searching after the first loss.
“Through reflection in my own time, me and Andy are very different, but like everyone in this room we have time,” said Joshua. “I just have to use my time and as soon as I got back from New York I got that commitment back, got into shape, I didn’t lose any heart, didn’t lose any fire in my belly, started hitting the heavy bag, preparing for this day. I’m actually really looking forward to it. No fear in my heart, no fear in my eyes. I’m just looking forward to putting on a show, and I’m confident.”
Joshua also showed his poker face, as he doesn’t expect this to be a special evening for him. He always believed he belonged here.
“I was asked if this will be a special moment and I said no because I know I belong there,” Joshua said. “It’s not special, I’ve been there, I know what I’m doing. When I regain those belts, I will probably keep calm and stay focused. It’s not a time to celebrate, it’s time to keep that challenge, mindset and find the next target, so one by one I’m picking them off. I’ve been doing that since I started boxing and Ruiz is just my next target on my list.”
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