Anthony Joshua could be willing to “dash” the unified heavyweight titles if he beats Oleksandr Usyk – to prove he demands respect even without his belts.
‘AJ’ is just a month away from his quest to become three-time heavyweight champion when he meets Oleksandr Usyk for a second time in Saudi Arabia. Joshua was beaten comfortably by the Ukrainian last September which saw him lose his unified world titles and take a step further away from meeting rival Tyson Fury.
Joshua could put himself in a perfect position to challenge Fury with the winner becoming the first undisputed heavyweight champion since Lennox Lewis. However Joshua has admitted he doesn’t want to be respected as a fighter purely based on the titles he has earned. “When I came into this division, it was whack,” Joshua told JD Sports when asked about his heavyweight career. “I thought, ‘Alright, you know what? I’m going to come in this game and take on everyone and anyone.’
“It doesn’t matter who, I can only beat what’s in front of me, but I’ve got to make sure that they’re top. Maybe it’s because I’m British that none of these lot are respecting my thing. I said, ‘Alright, you know what? I’m going to bring the heavyweight division to Great Britain, I will show people we are solid.’ Because I think people think we drink tea and eat biscuits and sit with the Queen.
“I feel like I’m not getting looked at as someone who is a dominant heavyweight in the division. This big Anthony Joshua goes and wins, becomes three-time, I’m going to dash these belts. Because you’ve got to learn to respect me as a person. Quote that. I’m tired, I don’t want to be respected because of the belts I hold. I want to be respected because of the man you see.”
Joshua built up a reputation as one of the division’s top fighters as he rose to become unified champion beating the likes of Wladimir Klitschko. However he lost his titles for the first time in 2019 after suffering a shock defeat by Andy Ruiz Jr on his American debut.
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Anthony Joshua is a two-time world heavyweight champion ( Image: Action Images via Reuters)
Joshua reclaimed his titles and became two-time champion in his second meeting with Ruiz Jr which was also held in the Middle East but he is likely to be facing an even tougher battle this time out after Usyk’s dominance of their first fight in the UK last year. Despite suggesting he could ditch his belts if he gets his revenge, Joshua remains hugely interested in a clash for all the marbles against Fury next.
Fury has stated he has fought for the last time in the boxing ring after defeating Dillian Whyte, but many close to him including wife Paris believes he would make a comeback to face Joshua. The ‘Gypsy King’ previously indicated that it would take an offer close to £500 million to return to the ring and face his rival. However Fury has changed his stance recently admitting he would be willing to fight Joshua for free.