Former 3-belt heavyweight champ Anthony Joshua will be fighting again this Saturday, matched against American Jermaine Franklin at the O2 Arena in the UK. It’ll be Joshua’s first fight since his in-ring meltdown last August after losing a second straight points decision to Oleksandr Usyk.
In that unsettling post-fight incident, Joshua would bolt from the ring, then return to make a scene that saw him toss two of Usyk’s belts from the ring. He’d then deliver a truly cringe-worthy monologue on the house mic, defending his character and arguing the case that it’s really, really hard to “throw combinations” when you weigh 18 stone. Later, backstage, he’d break down in tears when talking about the loss.
Joshua’s apparent fragile state of mind would raise doubts regarding his mental fitness in continuing his career.
But, predictably, he’s back and hoping to reassert his one-time status as not only the top heavyweight in the sport, but also one of boxing’s true elites. He’ll be aiming to get a “W” for the first time since December of 2020 when he stopped Kubrat Pulev in nine rounds.
Having added new trainer Derrick James to the mix, the British superstar is back in the public light, saying all the right things ahead of what many view is a “must-win” bout.
“We put a lot of pressure on ourselves as fighters,” Joshua recently told media.
“Hearing that final bell or hearing the ref count it out, honestly, it’s such a high feeling. No amount of money or sex could give you that kind of feeling. It’s true, nothing can give you that kind of feeling.”
The former champ also recalled a moment of clarity he had after beating Pulev and the subtle realization that even the heavyweight champion of the world is, ultimately, on his own when all is said and done.
“I remember when I beat Pulev, I was just in a cab on the way home on my own. Life just goes on.
“I built myself up for this massive event, thinking I’ve got to win and defend the title. Then it was just done. I was just driving home on my own.’
The 33-year-old Joshua, who’s been open about his mental health battles in recent months, displayed his new, re-affirmed winning philosophy on boxing life.
“There is only two things that can happen. One person will win and one person will lose.
“So, let me put myself in the winning seat. I am going to try and maintain a standard. We build ourselves so high up to get ourselves into fighting condition, so many rounds of sparring, training and running.
“I don’t want to dip too much. So I am going to try and maintain a standard. So I can go to higher heights and a tougher fight will be presented.”
And what if “AJ” loses to Franklin?
“I will retire if I lose,” Joshua asserted. “I’m not here to battle people. If people want me to retire I will retire.
“I’m not going to fight if people don’t want me too. It’s not even about the money. It’s about the competitor in you. That’s what’s important.”
Commenting on the pressure he feels as a main stage fighter, Joshua would brush the strain aside. He claims to be focused on the bigger picture in life, well past his in-ring professional life.
“It comes with the business and it comes with the territory, I know that.
“I know when I am retired, I am gonna be chilling. I’m gonna be thinking f**k everyone. I am done.
“You lot put so much pressure on me so when I am done, the chains are going to be gone. I am going to be laughing and loving life.”