Anthony Joshua says he has the mindset of a challenger ahead of his world heavyweight title defence against Carlos Takam on Saturday.
The bout will be Joshua’s fourth defence of his International Boxing Federation (IBF) heavyweight title but a first defence of the World Boxing Association (WBA), which the 2012 Olympic gold medallist won with a technical knock-out of Wladimir Klitschko in April.
But Joshua, who has won all 19 of his professional bouts insisted he remained humble ahead of a bout with France-based Takam, who only stepped in at 12 days notice after original opponent Kubrat Pulev, of Bulgaria, pulled out with a shoulder injury.
“I used to go to all the amateur boxing shows when I was an amateur and you wanted the interaction with your role models,” Joshua told a Cardiff news conference on Thursday.
“Now I see people coming up to me and I give them a bit,” he added ahead of a bout that could earn him up to £15 million ($20 million, 17 million euros), said Joshua who lives with his mother in London when not training in Sheffield.
Joshua’s unprecedented drawing power for a British boxer fighting in the UK means a crowd of over 70,000 is expected at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff — best known for staging Wales rugby union internationals.
For Joshua’s thrilling 11th round win over Klitschko in April, there was a 90,000 sell-out at London’s Wembley Stadium. “We have never seen anything like this in boxing and may never see it again,” said promoter Eddie Hearn. “This young man has transcended boxing.”
But Joshua said memories of April’s thriller would count for nothing in Cardiff this weekend.
“We’re going to have to put the Klitschko win to the side at some stage,” he said.
“That was then and this is now. Carlos is a completely different animal to Klitschko.
“But what I do know is that I’m willing to do this or that or whatever to win. In terms of style and technique it’s completely different. My mindset is different for this fight,” Joshua added.
The now 36-year-old Paris-based Takam (35 wins, 3 losses, 1 draw, 27 knockouts) represented Cameroon at the 2004 Olympics before moving to France the following year.
Joshua was unconcerned by the late change of opponent saying: “My trainer Rob McCracken has always taught me to focus on myself, my own personal development, rather than the opponent.
“He’s never trained me me for just one style of opponent. Whether I was fighting Kubrat Pulev or Carlos Takam, he’s adapted me and it’s been about my own balance, footwork and technique.”
Takam, who lost on points to New Zealand’s Joseph Parker last year before the New Zealander went on to win the World Boxing Organisation version of the heavyweight title, said he was ready to face Joshua despite the lack of notice.
“When I heard the news about the fight I was already preparing for another fight, so I am ready,” said Takam.
And Takam’s promoter Christian Cherchi insisted his fighter was not just turning up for a big pay-day.
“Of course, there could be an upset, because you are talking about heavyweight boxing and one punch can change everything,” said Cherchi. “Joshua knows this because he came back in a great way (after getting knocked down) in a great fight against Klitschko.
“Sometimes late notice means less pressure. Anthony is the favourite to win so the pressure is on him. But we believe Carlos has a great chance to win this fight.
“We haven’t just come for the opportunity, we’ve come to win,” he added.
Anthony Joshua has refused to rule out the prospect of a world heavyweight title clash with British rival Tyson Fury despite the former champion’s travails.
Fury has not fought since beating Wladimir Klitschko to win the IBF, WBA and WBO titles in December 2015 after being handed a drugs ban and then being stripped of his licence by the British Boxing Board of Control (BBBoC).
Earlier this month, the 29-year-old Fury said he would not reapply to the BBBofC for the right to fight again, further reducing the chances of a return.
But Joshua, who defends his IBF and WBA titles against late replacement Carlos Takam in Cardiff on Saturday, has left the door open to a fight with Fury.
“What was his (Fury’s) fighting weight — 18 stone (114 kilograms)? Even if he comes back at 22 stone, (George) Foreman came back bigger when he was in his prime,” Joshua said.
“If he wants to fight and gets his licence at 30 or 40 stone — if he wants to get in the ring and he shows he can move about and control that weight, people will watch him.
“But if he comes back at that weight and he’s getting into trouble against journeymen, then people won’t be interested. So it’s how he performs at his new weight.”
Joshua is aiming to unify the heavyweight titles.
A fight with WBO champion Joseph Parker – who beat Fury’s cousin Hughie in Manchester last month – is set for early next year, as well as a WBA mandatory bout before a prospective clash with reigning WBC king Deontay Wilder.
Joshua shook up the sport with the manner of his win over Klitschko and his promoter Eddie Hearn stressed his charge would not accept unreasonable demands for the sake of unifying the belts.
Hearn said: “We wouldn’t be held to ransom for a belt. (Kubrat) Pulev or Takam are fine for his defence of the title after Klitschko, but if it was someone like (Fres) Oquendo, we could say, ‘no-one wants to watch that fight’.
“The aim is to fight three times next year – ideally in March, April or summer then December. In a perfect world, two of the three fights would be for the additional belts – in any order.”
For a sport built on personality and individualism, modern boxing has its fair share of stereotypes.
Take for example, the fashion. There’s a discernible style to most world champion pugilists, from the slick shades and jewellery to the designer footwear and clothing.
It all works to form part of a celebration of their achievements in the sport, a statement to trumpet their success. And one large part of the stereotypical ensemble is the watch.
Now, the watch comes in many shapes, sizes and styles but they all work to illustrate flamboyance and, ultimately, wealth. Floyd Mayweather is perhaps the most obvious endorsement of this given some of the quite ludicrously iced-out timepieces he’s flaunted on social media.
But the watch also creates a conventional image which draws a certain slant about that fighter – bold, brash, arrogant, cocky and any other exaggerated trait you want to use.