Anthony Joshua: ‘Boxing today is about who talks the most but I'll take any fight'

© Getty Images joshuausyk090621.jpg

Boxing has a propensity to pine for better times. For Anthony Joshua, it was when there was less talking and more fighting.

“I was wondering about legacy and where boxing was years ago – in the Fifties and stuff – and the difference is a lot of those guys actually fought each other,” he said.

“That’s what made them great. In this day and age, it’s who speaks the most and who generates the most interest through speaking. It’s a different era of boxing. Speaking is just as important as boxing these days.”

The barb is partly aimed at the man he should have been fighting before the year’s end rather than the opponent on the other side of the ring at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Saturday night.

Talks may yet resume over the double-header between Joshua and Tyson Fury, who faces Deontay Wilder for a third time on October 9, should they win their respective fights.

Joshua talks unconvincingly about his encounter against Oleksandr Usyk being as big as the Fury fight and yet it will be bigger than the UK has experienced for a long time with some 60,000 fans in attendance.

Usyk is no slouch in the ring. Like his opponent, he is an Olympic champion from London 2012 although lacks the heavyweight experience of his opponent – this is only his third fight since stepping up from dominating globally at cruiserweight.

Joshua has prepared by shipping in a cavalcade of southpaw sparring talent from around the globe as well as slimming down, leading some to suggest such a streamlined approach could be to his detriment, particularly with the bigger men like Fury still looming. But he shakes off any negative connotations to his fight night plans.

“Physical advantage is one thing but it doesn’t make the world’s tallest man into the heavyweight champion of the world,” he said. “In boxing, you have to beat the confidence out of your opponent. This is heavyweight boxing and I’m the heavyweight champion of the world. I don’t play games, I’m here to win.”

One could argue that Usyk – his most notable opponent so far in heavyweight terms being Derek Chisora – has taken too much of a risk by facing Joshua relatively early in the heavyweight ranks but he gets kudos from his opponent.

© Provided by Evening Standard (Getty Images)

“He’s jumping in at the deep end and early on but good luck to him,” Joshua said. “He must believe in himself. He wants to be at the top early. It’s better to swim deep – get in there and get on with it – rather than tread water. You could still end up drowning anyway, you could still get caught in a current and drown. You might as well jump in the deep end and try to survive.”

His approach draws parallels with the last Ukrainian that Joshua fought, taking what many saw as a gamble in facing Wladimir Klitschko in the infancy of his professional career, which led to the start of his reign as heavyweight champion.

“Two years later would have been better for me because I would have been so much more experienced,” he said. “But it would have been two years later because the champ would have retired.

“For me, it was just a good time, good fight. Will we top it? Maybe. Let’s see if Usyk wants to go down that route, let’s see if he can put me in some adversity.”

© Provided by Evening Standard (AFP via Getty Images)

If victorious, talk will still continue around Fury and two potential encounters in 2022, and Joshua is ready for that.

“I’ve got no fear in my eyes, no fear in my heart,” he said. “I would take the fight tomorrow. I’m just looking forward to competing because I know I’m good enough.

“I haven’t got a list of names [to fight] but anyone’s welcome on this resume, no problem. I’m just looking to fight anyone during this period of time I’m boxing. While I’m doing it, I’m sure Fury will be on it, Wilder will be on it, Dillian Whyte, all of them.”

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