Anthony Joshua: “This Isn’t About Being A Fan Favorite”
By: Sean Crose
“Preparations’ gone really well,” Anthony Joshua claimed on a Wednesday conference call to promote his heavyweight title unifier against Joseph Parker on March 31st in Cardiff, Wales. “ I do believe a happy fighter makes a good fighter.” Joshua, the 20-0, WBA and IBF world heavyweight titlist, has good reason to be happy. He’s pretty much regarded as the king of the heavyweight division and has a superfight with Deontay Wilder around the corner, provided he bests Parker. The man’s also enormously popular.
“Two hundred and forty thousand fans,” promoter Eddie Hearn bragged in reference to stadium sized crowds Joshua has been packing in throughout Great Britain. “Over two and a half million UK pay per view buys. It’s been an incredible run.” For the time being, however, Team Joshua has made it clear the focus is on the 24-0 Parker. “I’m not the one overlooking Joseph Parker,” Joshua claimed, “and I’m not the one hooting and hollering on what’s happening next.” Hearn backed up his fighter’s assertion. “We never have to worry about Anthony’s focus,” the superpromoter claimed. And besides, “he’s not really into hype.”
What Joshua is into, however, is boxing. Listening to the man for just a few minutes’ time, one gets the impression that Joshua more than just competes as a fighter. He studies the sport objectively. For instance, his opinion of former foe Wladimir Klitshcko, who he feels was a bigger threat than Parker, is quite telling. “Wladimir was a phenomenal champion,” he claimed. “He was a great champion. Ten years on top. Phenomenal.” Joshua made it clear his 2017 fight with Klitschko was an incredible growing experience. “Everything I learned form that fight was a blessing,” he said.
Not that Joshua is underestimating New Zealand’s Parker. “Parker still possesses a threat,” Joshua claimed, “but he doesn’t have half the experience Wladimir had.” Parker brings his own set of experiences, though, something that Joshua noted. “He knows how to fight,” he said of Parker. “He’s traveled the world.” To Joshua, boxing is a most serious business. He made it obvious on Wednesday that one doesn’t dominate the heavyweight division with just “a right hand and a good chin.”
“We’re talking about balance,” he said. “We’re talking about footwork…being in range, being out of range…the jab.” To Joshua, boxing mastery entails an entire litany of subjects. “Everything,” he stated. “We’re talking about everything.” Now that he’s at the top of boxing’s pecking order, the fighter intends to make the most of it. “I just realize that this is my time,” he said. Perhaps surprisingly for someone as personable as he is, Joshua makes it clear that he’s in the business primarily for himself. “This isn’t about being a fan favorite,” he pointed out. “I’m here to handle my business the best way possible.”
Despite what Joshua may want, fans are dying to see him get in the ring with WBC titlist Deontay Wilder, something Joshua is aware of, though he admits he hasn’t “thought much about it.” Not that he wants to avoid the American knockout artist. “There’s no doubt in my mind that that fight will happen,” he said, “and there’s no doubt in my mind I’ll beat Wilder, as well.” So promising does Joshua’s career appear at the moment that UFC honcho Dana White reportedly wants in on the Joshua business.
“Listen,” Joshua said, “I’m riding with Eddie (Hearn)…I’m a boxer. I’m not into the UFC. I don’t know what their plans are.” Yet White needn’t fret. “I’m interested,” Joshua claimed, “because we can work together.” Not surprisingly, the titlist puts his faith Hearn when it comes to such matters. “I’m sure Eddie has an interest in working with Dana White,” he claimed. “We’re listening and, one hundred percent, if it makes sense, we’re all in.” Not that it’s foremost in Joshua’s mind right now.
“I’m wracking up wins,” he said. “It’s been going well. I’m not focusing on anything else, really.”