Undefeated IBF Champion Anthony Joshua hosted a media conference call to give his thoughts on Saturday’s heavyweight blockbuster between him and long-reigning kingpin Wladimir Klitschko live on SHOWTIME® (4:15 p.m. ET/1:15 p.m. PT) from sold-out Wembley Stadium in London.
The British sensation Joshua (18-0, 18 KOs) and Klitschko (64-4, 54 KOs) will unify the heavyweight division as they meet for Joshua’s IBF World Championship and the vacant WBA World Championship in front of record-setting 90,000 fans at Britain’s largest stadium.
Here is what Joshua had to say on the call on Wednesday:
“This is a good era for boxing so I try to live the life. Over the years when I started boxing until now I’ve been at training camp. The whole time I’ve been training it has been pretty beneficial, I’ve learned a lot. I’m not a perfect fighter but what I do do, I try to do well. I’m looking forward to the fight.
“If you’re asking about Saturday night, all roads have led to this and I’ve been training for a long time, I’ve stayed injury free. I’ve ran, I’ve sparred I’ve done my bag work and it comes to a stage in camp when I’m looking for the buy in now and that’s where I’m at really. Mentally, I’m excited.”
On how significant this fight is:
“For the sport in general, come on. For what UK-ers are doing supporting boxing globally, it’s massive. I also feel just to sell out the stadium without having to do the traditional entertainment to make a fight it just shows that kids can fight from different backgrounds …Where me and Klitschko are at, we don’t need to be trash talking and we are two half pieces coming together to lay it down on the line. It’s an amazing time for boxing in that sense that it’s mainstream. I’m not going to say win-or-lose, because the focus is to win, but it’s a massive benefit to Klitschko win-or-lose. Either he has another fight in him, or this time he’s done. I wish him all the best. I’m glad we got through training camp and we actually make it happen because as long as my heart was beating I still want to fight. I’m happy to be involved in such a mega showdown.”
Do you feel there is more pressure on you?
“Definitely not. I knew the significance of this fight before I took it. So I would never put that pressure upon myself if I didn’t want to deal with this pressure. I would have taken another route. But I want to fight guys in the division who are good. I don’t want to wait like eight years, nine years, six years before I start making a move on the heavyweight division – let’s get it on now. So if this is what comes with stepping up a level and a division I’m all for it. I’m not going to start saying ‘because I’m champion I’ve got pressure and I don’t think I’m going to perform.’ For me as a champion I don’t feel that pressure but I can relate to where he is coming from. As a champion you’re supposed to throw down like there’s no tomorrow so I’m not going to say because I’m a champion I’ve got so much pressure on my hands.”
How do you bridge the experience gap between you and Klitschko?
“I think it’s just destiny. I’m meant for this. I’m built for this. Let’s say we strip away what you just said, the excitement, the hype and just put us together. Go at it for 12 rounds, get down and dirty. I have the ability to come out on top and that’s how I take it. I don’t look at it like, ‘Oh my God, I’m fighting a guy who has been through it’, I don’t look at it that way. I just look at it as ‘I’m going to fight this guy called Wladimir Klitschko’ and we’ve got 12 rounds. I simplify it.
I practice boxing. Long range jab, jab to the body. I think I’m very capable of hitting someone continuously until they break down. So I think I’ll keep on plugging away, round 6, 7 and I should have him in a bad place. I just have to take the fight and break it down round by round.”
How will to deal with Kitschko’s reach:
“I’ve never fought him so I can’t say for sure. But what will I do about his reach? I’ve got my right hand to parry a jab, I’ve got my left hand to shield and protect me, to deflect his right hand. It’s no problem if he wants to grab. I can whip in a body shot and that would definitely slow him down. If you keep getting hit to the body at 41 that will take the fight out of anyone. On the outside I have got ways to deal with the majority of his shots. On the inside I just have to keep on swinging to the body and round-by-round I’ll start seeing an effect.”
What motivated him to take such a significant fight so early in his career:
“It was bound to happen. I felt the division needed it. I’m not doing it just for myself. I’m always about the industry. A lot of my friends from the amateur system have a chance to express their skill on the undercard, and it’s a massive platform. I think, as I said, the division needed it … Wladimir Klitschko, Deontay Wilder, let’s keep it going. Let’s start mixing it up because we’re in the same division, and it’s our era. What type of era are we if we don’t come together and have some trilogies and bring some excitement. So I’m all for it and that’s why I really wanted to take the fight.”
When was the first time you saw Klitschko and thought you could fight him?
“Not until last year. In 2015 I wasn’t really focusing on fighting Klitschko. I was moving towards maybe after [Eric] Molina we could have done [Kubrat] Pulev as a mandatory and gone that route of dominating the European market, but the opportunity came up. It’s a big fight, it’s a good challenge and let’s get it cracking. As I said, it’s good for the division and the attention it has brought is phenomenal. I think it benefits everyone so let’s be a part of that, and let’s be at the forefront of this.”
On earning more money than Floyd Mayweather Jr.?
“Not in boxing. I don’t think I could do it in boxing. Outside, if I make the right investments I think I can because I have some highly intelligent people around me but I think in boxing I don’t think I will but I think there will be a boxer who can because Floyd Mayweather has definitely set the benchmark, and records are only there to be broken. So I think someone could definitely achieve that financial status. But for me, that’s not so much my goal to try to be richer than Floyd Mayweather. The heavyweight division is so different from the welterweight division in the sense that all it takes is one shot, it’s a lot tougher, a lot more wear and tear on the body so I think it’ll be interesting. I definitely think we’ll make money, there’s no doubt about that but I’m not trying to put myself on the same pedestal as Mayweather.”
When do you think Klitschko was at his best?
“When he fought Marius Beck. He was a bit of a bigger guy and he controlled him with the jab and the one-twos. Remember he went twelve rounds. So he had to control a bigger man who was potentially heavier and stronger and he controlled his boxing skill and I think that’s when he was at his best. As I studied him that’s when I saw him at his best so I have watched fights around that era.”
Do you feel it’s a miracle you’re here?
“Yes. I was talking about it with my coach today. If you would have told me – I’ve only been in boxing eight or nine years – if you would have told me eight years ago, ‘Listen son, if you walk through that door into the boxing gym you’ll do this, this, this, this and this’ I would have been like ‘yeah, right’. It’s been phenomenal and why we do all the promotional stuff and get involved in big fights is for motivational purposes. I know there’s some other kids that are going to come up and be phenomenal because he may have seen myself and my journey and wants to get involved in what we’re creating. I’m all for that. I love it. Today was my last day of training camp and I’m thinking now what am I going to do in my next training camp, how am I going to improve. I’m enjoying the journey. It has been fun, boxing is a good sport.”
What is your history in sparring with Klitschko?
“I’m not a gym fighter so I did not go to try to prove anything with the sparring. I mainly went to go to see how a champion sets up his training camp. While I was sparring, it was good. Wladimir is technical. He will try to maneuver you with his lever hand to put you in a position to throw his right hand. That’s what I got from Klitschko. He is patient, he was just trying to set me up so he could throw his shots and I was just working on moving, jabbing to the body, jabbing to the head and I would go back to the corner and Andy Breshear would say ‘stick it on the champ’ and I would say ‘no I’m not here for that, I’m not here to prove anything.’ I wanted to watch, I wanted to analyze. That’s what I got from sparring with him. To learn how he operates in the ring and I learned how a champion sets up training camp.”
On the strength of Klitschko’s chin:
“He’s got a good chin. How long has he reigned, 10 years? Yeah, he’s got a good chin. You can’t be a championship fighter for 10 years if you have a bad chin. That’s the thing about the heavyweight division, it takes one shot. All these fighters that we claim have got good chins are the ones who get knocked out by Wladimir, so he must be doing something right. I remember Samuel Peters had a granite chin but they still end up getting knocked out down the line and they don’t go on to do great things. So, regardless of the chin, I think he’s got something right that works.”
Opinion of Klitschko’s Career:
“He is underrated. Heavyweight boxing comes with bigger prize money, more attention. To stay that disciplined for that long is a serious task. He and his brother have done well to reign for that long … I would want to go down as one of the greatest because I reigned for so long. No one could beat me for the last 10 years. It’s a good achievement and I would want to be recognized for that achievement.”
On potentially fighting in America:
“I think just fight Wilder, Gerald Washington, [Bryant] Jeninngs as well. These are the hotshots in America right now. I’ve made sure I fought some Americans on my way up so we could get a buzz out there. But I think I have to come out there for a fight for sure that’s important.
“America is the mecca of boxing. If we can cross over into the states and keep the fan base in the UK I think we’ve cracked it. That’s mega stuff, that’s global boxing. You’ve got a big guy, heavyweight with a name that’s easy to pronounce and speaks English well. I can relate to the U.S. market. All I have to do is get out there show them what my trade is and hopefully they’ll appreciate it and hopefully we can start talking about setting up major fights and bringing the same attention in the UK to the U.S. That would be phenomenal.”
How much of a concern is Klitschko’s holding?
“The holding is natural. But what do you do when someone is holding? How do you fight them off? You bring in the upper cut, you whip in a right hand to the body until the ref tells you to break. It’s a fight so I can’t prevent the holding but it makes it interesting to see what fighter does when they’re being held. When I’m being held I’m just going to throw the right hand to the body, left hook to the body and that will start taking the wind out of Klitschko.”
On Klitschko’s last fight against a British fighter David Haye:
“I think my fights will be entertaining. It is important for me to be entertaining. It’s not only winning, but it’s about how you win. I’ve always tried to go in there and perform to that level. It would be sweet to go in there and knock Wladimir out, because that’s what heavyweight boxing is about. So that would be sweet. I’m not into the 12-round boxing.
“David Haye was up against it because you had Klitschko, who was a champion. Emanuel Steward, who trained the champion. Then you had David Haye, who wasn’t a champion and Adam Booth, who wasn’t a heavyweight championship trainer. He was up against it and he found it tough. It just showed that the bigger, stronger man would win. He just got the job done and that’s what led him to here. He got the win and I’m happy or we wouldn’t be here right now.”