Speaking ahead of defending his IBF, WBA and IBO world titles against Frances Carlos Takam, Anthony Joshua has reflected upon his last offering against hall-of-fame heavyweight Wladimir Klitschko.
The Brit tasted the canvas before digging deep against the Ukrainian to sensationally down the veteran in round eleven.
It has been labelled by critics as one of the best fights from the past decade of heavyweight boxing.
However, despite such an enthralling contest, AJ has admitted he’s adapted since the victory.
“Now when I watch boxing, I watch it completely different,” explained Joshua.
“When you watch a George Foreman and Ron Lyle kind of fight or an Ali and Foreman fight where a bit of their soul and spirit disappears, I always wondered how they were doing it and how they were taking those shots. You always question how, why, and what makes people do what they do.
“Until I went through it, I would always watch boxing but now I don’t just watch it, I understand it. I know the thing that you can’t be taught is how to survive in the trenches. I just feel like my heart is very big and I wear it on my sleeve in this sport.
“It’s just that mindset. I’m willing to do whatever it takes to win, that’s one thing. I just realized as well what the division needs because I think the masses of people can relate to a boxer’s life. It’s labor, you’re up early, working, you’re resting and providing for your family. There’s also the glitz and glamor of getting money but that disconnects from so many people.
“The wealthy people are one percent of the world, so people just want to see you fight. They want to see you go to war. That’s another thing I’ve learned…what people want and desire for in this sport to kind of bring the attention back to boxing. I don’t just do it, I don’t just watch it, I really understand it. I know what to do to deliver.”
Eddie Hearn knows the American market are keen on staging Joshua’s next fight in America, with the Deontay Wilder on the fringes of meeting him in a possible unification fight next year.
Tomorrow’s clash will be at the Principality Stadium, Cardiff, in front of 70,000 spectators.
Asked if he thought he was boxing’s biggest star, AJ replied:
“I’m going to keep it humble because there’s still people in this sport that I look up to. I love Kovalev, I love Alexander Ustinov. From a talent perspective, I don’t know if I’m as talented, but I hustle the smartest. I work the hardest. You can’t deny that. We’re all carrying this weight. Even promoters are carrying this weight it’s not just me. We all have different attributes.”
One man that AJ is being compared to is former undisputed champion, Lennox Lewis. The Londoner admitted it was a privilege to be in the same sentence as the legend, citing the fellow Brit as an inspiration.
“It’s an honor at this stage. I’m going to do some research and see where Lennox was at in terms of career building going into his 20th fight. I feel like Lennox is definitely someone I can learn from. If you gave me a list of boxers I could learn from, I would put Lennox in my top 10, 100 percent. If I can perfect that jab. This is what we’re doing, this is the journey we’re on.
“It’s interesting because either you’re the next Lennox or the next Tyson or you’re nobody in boxing. It’s a tough sport so if I can be compared to these legends of the game, we’re definitely moving in the right direction. I’m not here calling myself the next Lennox. This is what I’m hearing. But we’re moving in the right direction.
And asked what it was like to spend time with Lewis, he added: “I was around Lennox when I was trying to make the decision about turning professional. Lennox gave me advice more about career building. So I went through Matchroom, who’s done that for a long time.
“After that, I kind of locked myself away and have just been focusing on my fight game. If there’s any advice I could take from Lennox it would be for my fight game because I do need to develop skills for sure.”
Joe Hewlett is lead writer for World Boxing News. Follow Joe on Twitter @Hewlett95