Anthony Joshua has claimed he was a prolific striker in his younger years as he took a stroll down memory lane.
The heavyweight boxer played football during his youth and responded to a photo posted by a friend in their old football team. The picture was taken after his team Garston boys won the under-16 championship in 2005. Ashley Williams, now a business/travel manager, posted a snap to his Instagram story and tagged all his former teammates, including AJ.
The former boxing heavyweight champion responded by reposting the snap on his story and wrote: “40 goals a season was normal. I used to carry this team,” and added a snooze face emoji.
The 32-year-old is currently preparing for a championship rematch with Oleksandr Usyk as he looks to regain the belts he lost at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium last September. The 32-year-old was criticised for his game-plan that night, as he looked to outbox and outmanoeuvre his opponent. Now the Watford-born boxer intends to be more aggressive and will look to knock Uysk out when they step in the ring once again.
Speaking at the Oxford Union to The Sun, AJ revealed: “The fight with Usyk, in my mind, was going for 12 rounds. That was my game plan because I thought I could compete with him as a boxer. And I think he won two more rounds than I did. That’s how he became champion. So the goal now is to go back to basics and go for the knockout.”
For the rematch, AJ appears to have put his trust in unproven assistant coach Angel Fernandez with head-trainer duties and given him the task of stripping him back to his old KO-artist prime. “I always feel, when I’m sparring or fighting people, I actually see their spirit get dampened,” he added.
“Honestly, when you’re looking at this person directly in their eyes and watching their body, you can read the body and punch after punch this person is slowly fading. Now when you’re boxing, the art of boxing is to hit and not get hit. So you’re kind of boxing to stay away. That’s not really my style. My style is to be up close and personal and make it difficult for the person. So that’s the game plan.”
It has been a turbulent buildup to the fight for Usyk, whose home nation of Ukraine has been under siege since February from Russian and Belarusian soldiers. The boxer was even on the front lines helping defend his country from President Putin’s soldiers. Despite the adversity he faces, he has warned Joshua that he will be extra-motivated to win their rematch.
“Of course, what’s going on currently in Ukraine will motivate me a lot in the gym, in training sessions and of course during the fight,” he told the Block Party YouTube show. “Because for me it’s another way to make people happier, those who are at home right now.”
On the situation in his homeland, he explained: “The fight is continuing but I’m keeping posted on my friends and I’m regularly updated by them, I receive all the news from them. I made this decision to return to training sessions as my friends and my colleagues from authorities – some of them are public figures – they asked me to return and to get back training.
“This way I can help my country way more than just staying [in Ukraine] or joining the territorial defence battalion, so this way I’m helping my country too.” Usyk also revealed the contracts are expected to be signed soon and an official announcement for the rematch will be expected to follow.