Photos by Lawrence Lustig – Undefeated IBF Heavyweight World Champion Anthony Joshua (16-0, 16 KOs) and fellow unbeaten American challenger Dominic Breazeale (17-0, 15 KOs), participated in the final press conference on Thursday at Sky Sports Studios in London, just two days before their showdown this Saturday.
The British sensation and 2012 Olympic Games Gold Medalist, Joshua will make the first defense of his title against Breazeale, a 2012 U.S. Olympian from Upland, Calif., this Saturday, June 25 on SHOWTIME BOXING INTERNATIONAL® from a sold-out The O2 in London, live on SHOWTIME® on at 5:15 p.m. ET/2:15 p.m. PT.
Fellow heavyweight world champion Deontay Wilder, the undefeated WBC titleholder, will join the SHOWTIME announce team as an in-studio guest analyst for coverage of Joshua-Breazeale from New York.
A few hours later Saturday, in primetime on CBS (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT), Keith “One Time” Thurman will defend his WBA Welterweight World Title against former champ Shawn “Showtime” Porter in a welterweight blockbuster that headlines SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING on CBS, presented by Premier Boxing Champions.
Below is what the fighters had to say at the final press conference, followed by some recent fight week quotes. (Courtesy Sky Sports and Matchroom Sport)
“You’re in my jungle now. There’s no pressure on me.
“Once that bell goes, you can’t hide the instinct, the instinct that you want to get someone out of there. I hope I can go in there, stay relaxed and do what I planned to do. But once that bell rings something just comes over you and you want to get him out of there ASAP.
“There will always be pressure. But look, it’s always been the same concept: Train hard – it’s the same ring. It hasn’t changed.
“I’ve got nothing to lose. I’ve always explained let’s get rid of the belts, the atmosphere, because when the bell goes it’s just me and him in the ring. Two gladiators, two respectful warriors coming together. We’re going to slug it out and put our 0s on the line.”
“I’m prepared, Dominic is prepared well, and one of us has to take a loss.
“Each fight is a stepping stone to the big tests. I want to look like the real deal.”
“I think we’re in the golden era of boxing again.”
“I respect you as a fighter, but I’m going to beat you. I’ve got to beat the best of the best.”
“I can’t wait, it’s been an opportunity I’ve been waiting eight years for this. It’s an opportunity of a lifetime and I’m ready for this.
“Expect fireworks. We’ll be going round for round, punch for punch and I expect to knock out Joshua.”
“I got a big right hand, I have a big left hook. I stand 6-foot-7, 255 pounds. I’m unorthodox – I’m a guy that can fight on the inside, I’m a guy that can take a punch, I’m a guy that can give a punch. So if any one of those given things show up on Saturday night I’m getting a knockout, for sure.
“It’s a major advantage just for me to have Anthony Joshua the whole time. I don’t want him at any given point for him to feel like he’s in his comfort zone, his own backyard or his own little lion’s den.
“That’s what I came across the pond to do. I came across the pond to get my belt and take it back home with me.
“It’s my Super Bowl. Being a former football player, this is my Super Bowl.”
“Everybody keeps comparing me to Charles Martin, the only thing that we have in common is that we’re both American. We have a completely different fight style, different goals in life.
“I’m a big puncher, so is Anthony Joshua. He has the belt and I intend to have it on Saturday night.
ADDITIONAL FIGHT WEEK QUOTES:
“I’m 16 fights, 16 wins, Dominic is 17 fights, 17 wins. We’ve been pro for the same amount of time, amateurs for the same time so we’re at a similar level on paper.
“People think this will end in two rounds? Brilliant. I am winning fights early because of my talent and hard work. Where I am in my career, it’s a perfect fight.
“I don’t overlook anyone. People talk and talk, that’s irrelevant. It’s all about whether he can fight. I think he believes in himself, but he knows what’s in store here, he needs to know I’m serious about this boxing. He thinks he’s going to KO me, he’s dismissed Charles Martin — sometimes you just have to humble somebody and show levels, let them know it’s not that easy.
“The second I stepped in to the pros it was ‘Boom!’ — Anthony Joshua – headlining. That’s not down to me, its media channels and people wanting to get to know the guy behind the gloves. So it’s been hard to build a career at the right pace without criticism because people want to see me in massive fights right now.
“You can’t jump from hero to zero, there are people guiding us over a long and a dangerous career. People have to understand that it’s a development of a career, and if I ever train a fighter, I’ll tell them the same thing.”
On fellow heavyweight world champions Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury:
“This won’t be my only defense, I want there to be lots and lots, and at the right time I will fight David Haye, Tyson Fury, Deontay Wilder and the rest. We’re in an era now where we have to fight each other. There’s never been an era when the best don’t fight the best at heavyweight — but they have to happen at the right time, and they will.
“We are all world champions as we hold all the belts that are available. We’re all talented. Deontay has defended his title multiple times so you have to give him credit for that. Tyson and I haven’t defended yet, so I put Deontay at the top. But Tyson beat Wladimir Klitschko who reigned for such a long time.
“I am happy because I became a world champion in my 16th fight and they won theirs later in their careers. But Tyson beat the main man in the division, and Deontay has defended his belt lots of times, so I am in third right now, but I am building my way up.
“Put the belts to one side, they don’t give you magical powers. A lot of fighters lose their belt in their first defense. It’s about developing your raw talent and making sure you keep on an upward curve because there’s hungry young challengers snapping at your heels all the time, ready to expose you – and I refuse that to happen to me.”
On Charles Martin:
“Before the fight, no one criticized (Charles) Martin. He was undefeated, knocking guys out, tall southpaw, dangerous. Bookies were taking a lot of bets on him knocking me out. Tyson Fury backed him to do just that and a lot of people thought it would be tricky. Up until I beat him, he was seen as a worthy fighter. I figured him out quickly and I made him look bad. He didn’t look like the champion people thought he was, but you have to respect him.”
On thinking about losing:
“I think about losing all the time, I’m scared of it. That keeps me humble and working hard. I don’t think people are going to beat me or anything, but I don’t want to lose, and I know that if I work hard and keep improving, I won’t lose.
“I get enough attention from this job. There are 20,000 fans at the fights, millions watching on TV around the world. I don’t need to seek attention. I’m not a trash talker because the fists do the talking.’’
On being a role model:
“I know that there are a lot of kids watching me now and their parents say ‘my son loves you’ and that’s in my mind.
“I’ll be myself all the time, but that sense of being a role model and having kid’s look up to you, that checks the emotions that could come out if you get wound up. You have to conduct yourself.’’
On Tyson Fury:
“Tyson talks a lot. I hear so many different things, if he was consistent with what he says then maybe I’d think he was digging a bit, but it’s just water off a duck’s back. I don’t know him, but as long as people are saying ‘when are you going to fight him?’ then I like him because he is relevant.
“It would be such a huge fight and one that would be part of my legacy. I think because he’s beaten Wladimir once he can do it again. I didn’t think he’d win the first fight, but he pulled it off.
“I’d love to fight Tyson – it’s a match-up that needs to happen. There have been talks, whether they are a quick chat or serious negotiations, but you can’t click your fingers and come up with a mega fight. It takes time, but they are in the pipeline and we’re building towards them, and in the meantime I want to test myself and learn my craft. I need to perform well to prove that I can handle the massive fights.’’
On fellow British heavyweight David Haye:
“David is running the show and people know it, so when he goes in against soft opponents, he’s putting his neck on the line to get the stick. Fans expect more from him and he’s not meeting those levels, and that’s where the backlash comes from. The people he’s calling out versus the two guys he has fought, they just don’t add up, and that’s what people are frustrated about.
“I don’t think you can knock the Shannon Briggs fight. He’s made a lot of noise, he’s old school and it’s a good fight for David to take, win and move upwards. Shannon had made noise and he’s got his moment and who knows? Maybe he can shock the world. He’s old, but he trains hard and he’s in great condition, and that’s why people love the heavyweights because it’s that one shot.
“A fight with Fury and I is the biggest fight in British boxing in my opinion. The Haye fight is big too; there’s enough media interest for it to be big. It’s already big and we’re not even fighting yet, so imagine how big it would be once we get in there. It’d be unbelievable and that’s why I am so interested in the fights.”
“I plan on putting on some extreme pressure and taking Joshua to places he’s never been. We’ll find out if he can handle it.
“Do I want to see him go into uncharted territory? Of course, without a doubt.
“I’ve been there, I know what it feels like and I’ve done it several times now. At the same time, I’m not going to let an opportunity pass me. If I see something I can take in the first or second round, I’m definitely going to get him out of there.
“I’ve sparred guys that are bigger than me, I’ve sparred some guys smaller than me. I’ve been the tallest thus far (of his professional opponents), but I don’t think the difference in a matter of inches is going to make that big of a difference. The guys I’ve sparred with are 10 times better than Anthony Joshua.
“I think that it’s going to be one of those situations that it is not going to be a difference of size or weight. It’s going to be the difference of skill and experience.
“When you think of a heavyweight champion you want to make sure he’s fought the best, and I think that’s why Joshua has chosen me as his opponent to defend against. That’s what he plans on getting out of the situation if he can make it through the 12 rounds.
“I think Joshua’s thinking of me as a stepping stone and he’s going to be sorry about that. He’s just wrong. He’s fighting a guy at 6-foot-7, 255 pounds that brings the pressure and a great pace from round-to-round.
“I’m one of those guys that I might take a shot, I might work some defense or I might work a strong jab. Either way, I’m going to make it a fight. All of my opponents have been down on the canvas and I don’t think Joshua is going to come shy of that as well.
“I’ve been picked as the smaller guy in the ring, by the IBF as a stepping stone and I feel like my back is against the wall. I’m going to come out fighting.
“To come here and win the IBF title in London is a major thing for me that I plan to achieve. Then I want to continuing to go after all the titles.
“My mind set has definitely changed. The situation that I’m in mentally is just different compared to some of my fights in the past. My confidence level is through the roof and physically I feel great.
“I think the heavyweight division is getting ready to change. With individuals like myself, Deontay and Tyson, we have guys who are characters who bring a lot of charisma to the division. That’s something that we need. Yes, we are athletes but in the end we are entertainers and we want to see a show. I’m the type of guy that brings a show every single time I fight. It’s action-packed from the opening bell to the end, and fight fans are looking for that. That’s what is going to resurrect the heavyweight division.’’
On his win over Amir Mansour:
“That was another confidence booster for me. It’s one thing to finish a guy in the first round with three punches or something like that. It’s another thing to finish a guy in the sixth, seventh round with a combination of shots.
“Amir put me down on the canvas in the second, I battled back and ended up breaking the man’s jaw.
“It gives me something to work on. I know I was able to come back and be very successful from it. Anytime you get a win of that matter where you get a guy, break him down, break him down where he quits on the stool, it’s a huge confidence booster. It makes you understand as an athlete or as a professional boxer that you’ve got punching power, you just broke another man’s jaw.’’
On returning to London after the 2012 Olympics:
“I think it’s going to beautiful. It’s going to be great to go back to where my amateur career ended and beat the guy who won the gold medal. That’s going to be great. And then, on top of that, take away more hardware with the IBF Heavyweight title. You couldn’t ask for anything better.
“Then again I do understand and believe I’m a completely different fighter — not only am I a professional but I no longer fight an amateur style. I would consider myself a knockout artist with some pretty good punching power and that’s what I plan on showing the UK fans and my U.S. following. It’s a chapter that needs to be closed and I plan on doing that.’’
On the state of the heavyweight division:
“I believe that we’ve got a lot of heavyweights who are doing real well and are real successful in their situations, some being titleholders, some not. But I think it’s going to be a revolving circle. Me fighting Anthony Joshua, then going on to Deontay and Fury, Wladimir Klitschko might even hang around for a while. Will it ever be compared to the Ali days or Riddick Bowe and the Evander Holyfield days? I don’t know. Bowe and Holyfield had one great trilogy and I study it all the time. So it all depends on how much each fighter has left in him.’’