Anthony Joshua Talks Boxing, Tyson and Wilder

By Marc Livitz on February 20, 2019
Anthony Joshua Talks Boxing, Tyson and Wilder
These days, the division belongs to Anthony Joshua, Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder.

“Every fighter needs a defining fight in their career and I felt with Klitschko, he understood that it took two to tango…”

Thanks in large part to the lower weight classes in boxing over the past two decades, the heavyweight championship of the world took an unexpected back seat, if not the side car. Of course, the dominance of the Klitschko brothers held its weight in plutonium. Still, it’s not as though either of the Ukrainian former champions polarized the bulk of American audiences to the same extent as Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield or Riddick Bowe, just to name a few. In the Summer of 2017, Englishman Anthony Joshua officially ended the reign of Wladimir Klitshko in front of a packed house at Wembley Stadium in London. The eleventh round stoppage victory came after boxing fans were treated to a magnificent contest where many of us were left in a state of amazement at the sight of two heavyweights who were actually in peak physical condition and understood that being a champion is a full-time job.

These days, a triumvirate of talent is in clear separation from the heavyweight ranks and with full respect to all of them, the division belongs to Anthony Joshua, Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder. At the present time, Joshua (22-0, 21 KO’s) holds four of the sanctioned championship belts, while Wilder (40-0-1, 39 KO’s) has one to his credit. Fury (27-0-1, 19 KO’s), as ‘the man who beat the man’ by way of defeating the aforementioned Klitschko, who was the lineal champion back in 2015 now holds that distinction. As we wait to see whether or not he and Wilder will meet for a second time, we’re going to need to sit through Joshua’s upcoming contest with Jarrell Miller (23-0-1, 20 KO’s) which will take place on the first of June at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

Of course, the bout for which most of us clamor is a meeting of two continents between Joshua and Wilder. In the past, we’ve heard rumblings through Joshua’s promoter, Eddie Hearn, that any bout between the two would take place in England. On Tuesday afternoon, IBF/IBO/WBA/WBO champion Joshua spoke to ‘JT The Brick’ of Mad Dog Radio on Sirius XM and discussed his interest in America as well as a contest with Deontay Wilder. What he had to say about such a matchup was in clear contrast from the statement put forth from his promoter.

“No matter how soundproof the building is, you can still hear the crowd stomping their feet and clapping their hands as you’re getting your hands wrapped and getting into ‘the zone,’” he said in terms of the feelings felt before fighting in front of 90,000 fans in a venue like Wembley Stadium. “As much as it is entertainment, it’s much like a gladiatorial moment. You’re about to step into the arena and there’s no place to hide. The most embarrassing thought for me is that I could be knocked out on my back and laid out for ten minutes, so I know I have to lay it all on the line”.

The champion also spoke of his ability to avoid being hit in the ring. “I feel that I definitely want to get that guy out of there as soon as I can,” he said. “I’ve been in fights when I think guys are just waiting until the eleventh round so that they can land that one shot after taking a beating. That happens in heavyweight boxing. The guy is just waiting and waiting. Sometimes, keeping it easy is so predictable, so I had to learn how to fight on the inside.”

He then referred to a fight which took place when he was a young lad which greatly influenced him. “I remember watching Ike Ibeabuchi fight David Tua (June 7, 1997) and they just sat on the inside the whole fight. I have to be ready to fight long or short. I can make it look really complicated when it’s actually not because I’ve practiced the sweet science.”

Anthony had a few things to say about his favorite fighter. “Mike Tyson was my favorite, to a certain degree,” said the unbeaten champion. “He came from absolutely nothing in Brownsville, Brooklyn, which was the real bottom end of the pit. To get where he was to where he is now is a phenomenal story and he’s said that a lot of his friends are either dead or in jail. I respect him for that. He was never that kid from Brownsville who was supposed to be the heavyweight champion of the world. He was in a youth jail and always getting into so much trouble. He got shipped off to Catskill with Cus D’Amato and they transformed him into the baddest man on the planet. So, what I got from that is that it doesn’t matter where you start. It’s how you apply yourself when you start and Mike Tyson put all of his effort into becoming the best fighter. For a time, he was unstoppable and he had his mind right. He was the finished article. That’s what I got from Tyson. If I adapt my training skills and my mind’s right, then it doesn’t matter if you were born to do it because you just build yourself to do it.”

He went on to elaborate on his August 2017 win over Wladimir Klitschko and what it did not only for his career, but himself as well. “I feel like every fighter needs a legacy fight,” said Joshua. “In years to come, no one’s going to talk about the time I fought Paul Butlin in Sheffield. In a hundred years from now, maybe they’ll talk about the time I went toe-to- toe with Wladimir Klitschko. Every fighter needs a defining fight in their career and I felt with Klitschko, he understood that it took two to tango. He gave the opportunity to express a lot more than we had seen in terms of just knockout strength. There was that will, that hunger and that grit. Klitschko showed that as well and that’s why he got a lot of respect because it doesn’t matter if you lose when you can still win in the eyes of the fans. He was willing to lay it all on the line. That fight was everything to me. By then, I realized that a fighter can’t have too many nights like that. Only a few humans have that many wars in them, so you have to be clever.”

As the interview closed, the amiable Watford, Hertfordshire champion discussed the highly anticipated, yet at this time purely imaginary fight with WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder. The fact that his comments differed from his promoter was quite welcoming to the ears.

“Eddie knows that I want this fight,” he said in regard to a bout with the undefeated champion from Alabama. “Eddie wants the fight as well because he knows how big it is. What’s good about what Eddie does is that he has an ‘option B’ because I can’t put all of my eggs in one basket and wait around for Deontay Wilder. If I had, then I wouldn’t have fought for the past two years. We’ve had fantasy in terms of what’s your wildest dream and reality, which is what you bring to the table. Wilder’s had over 40 fights in the space of ten to eleven years and I’ve had 23 fights in the space of four to five years and I have the majority of the world championship belts. I think what Eddie’s saying is that there’s nothing wrong with this fight happening, but we have to get away from the fantasy of Wilder’s team and bring reality to the table. We all have to weigh the risks and what the reward is and that’s where I think the holding blocks are, but I think in terms of Wilder not giving the fans what they want, he’s starving the fans of his shot at an undisputed heavyweight championship fight. If he’s so concerned at being the one champ in the division, then why hasn’t he done in it in eleven years?”

The 2012 Olympic gold medalist continued. “We’ve made offers to Wilder and Tyson Fury and we think they’ve both looked at the risks and rewards. Right now, I feel like the ‘boogeyman’ of the division and that I’ve been blacklisted. Remember, we made offers of 90,000 people and the commercial value. Everyone’s now aware of the situation. I have the belts, so why would he not want to bite my hand off and become the best heavyweight in the world?”

Would Wilder agree to fighting first on Joshua’s home turf in England and a 60/40 split of the prize money? “Provided that I win in June in the U.S., then what’s to say that I can’t fight in the U.S. once again?” said the Englishman. “If I do that, then he knows that there’s no escaping me. I’ll come to your backyard to prove that I’m the best. We came here to make a statement and if for whatever reason we can’t fight in the U.K., then why not show that we mean business and fight in America? In ten years, when has Wilder fought outside of the U.S.? It’s an option now and we’ve created our own market here and we’re going to do something bigger than he’s ever done before in his whole career. We’re leading the pack and I’m not watching who is behind me. I’m just looking out for who wants to come and challenge me.”

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  1. Thrashem 05:52am, 02/21/2019

    Klitch came to England as a 40 year old man. All great champs fight outside their country, because that is where the money is! AJ beat an old man who hadn’t been challenged in 10 years. Where is the rematch, Klitch is ready, is Joshua waiting till he is 50. He was lucky to get off the canvass. If Klitch was younger, we wouldn’t be having this dialogue. That should be AJ’s next fight, then Wilder.
    Even with all the hype , this is a very boring division with other fighters more deserving to watch. Get out the re-runs, this is like watching paint dry!

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