By: Sean Crose
“Wallin’s a tough guy,” former world heavyweight titlist Anthony Joshua told Laura Woods in an interview for TNT Boxing. “He’s never been stopped. Never been hurt. Durable. So yeah, he’s going to be game.” Joshua has a lot riding on his December 23d fight in Saudi Arabia. Heavyweight contender Otto Wallin, who will be Joshua’s opponent that night, gave Tyson Fury all Fury could handle when the two men met a few years back. What’s more, people are still questioning Joshua since losing two of his last three fights at the gloved hands of walking Ukrainian skill set Oleksandr Usyk.
“I feel a lot of people doubt how good I am,” said the Londoner, “but I’m going to show them how good I am.” Not all that long ago, Joshua was seen as the man to beat at heavyweight. Undefeated, hard hitting and popular, the towering Englishman had the chiseled look and confidence of a true titlist. Yet, through a complex course of events, Joshua never got to meet Tyson Fury, the WBC heavyweight champion, in the ring. That proved to be unfortunate in more ways than one. Not only did the world miss out on the chance to see two super sized heavyweights battle, Joshua went on to lose his own title belts to Usyk.
Had Joshua and Fury actually had been able to fight as planned, boxing would have had a true king at heavyweight, a single champion who owned all the major belts. Now Fury will be facing Usyk for that crown. That’s one of the reasons why Joshua ended up breaking down immediately after losing to Usyk the second time. “I wasn’t in the undisputed race anymore,” Joshua recalled. “I wasn’t champion, so that was like a massive, I don’t know how to explain it, but something comes over you, but it’s just passion…a lot of emotion. A lot of emotion.”
Fortunately, Joshua now seems to be in a better place – or at least knows HOW to get himself in a better place. For starters, the man realizes the reality of his situation. “It won’t happen anymore,” he said of the chance to become undisputed heavyweight champion. “I think it’s just the reality.” He’s probably right. Fury and Usyk have signed to fight a rematch after their first battle. What’s more, the organizations behind the major titles have their own agendas which often contradict one another. In other words, Fury and/or Usyk is ultimately likely to be stripped of one title for defending another.
“I feel it would probably take me about five to six years,” Joshua said of the time it would now take to take possession of all the belts. “It’s probably not in my time frame.” Again, Joshua’s probably right. He’s already 34, after all. Still, the man appeared accepting in the Wood’s interview, which was good to see. “Now I’ve got over that,” he said of the bitterness of his situation, “it’s not part of my plan anymore, so what’s next? I can aim to become champion.” Sure enough, Joshua wants to once again hold a world title. What’s more, there’s plenty of high profile opponents out there for him to face, Fury and former WBC titlist Deontay Wilder being just two.
“I’ve done what I cold when I was champion and I’ve taken that pressure off myself now,” he said. “The best healer is time. Just give it time and everything will work out.” Perhaps there will even be time to fight for the undisputed heavyweight championship after all is said and done. The sport of boxing is nothing if not full of surprises, after all, though Joshua appears to now have a more specific goal. “It’s all fun,” he said of the possibilities before him, “but I want to become three-time heavyweight champion of the world. That’s my main focus.”
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