Anthony Joshua says his main focus is on victory over Kubrat Pulev despite talk of an undisputed super-fight with Tyson Fury.
AJ has a huge weight on his shoulders as he prepares to face the Bulgarian challenger knowing the world is waiting for him to slip up again.
A crushing loss to Andy Ruiz Jr. could come back to haunt him should Pulev do similar in London.
The 31-year-old is massively aware of the huge task in front of him.
“The pressure that I went through last year was tough, but it made me mentally stronger. I grew thicker skin. I’ve always been tough and wanted to fight the best. That’s never been an issue.
“What have I got to lose? I’ve got everything to gain. I want to be successful in boxing, and the only way to be successful is to take on big challenges. This is just another one I’m looking forward to competing with.
“I want to promote boxing; I don’t yearn for that credit. I’m very motivated. I’m hungry. That’s why I put myself forward for any opportunity. I’ve got a family to feed, friends I want to do business with, the worlds my oyster. At the end of the day, I can’t expect anyone to love me if I don’t love myself, so I respect myself, and that’s why I put in work every single day.
“I’ve been fighting at a top-level ever since I walked into the gym. I had a three-year amateur career, going from walking into the gym to competing at the European Championships, World Championships, and the Olympics.
“I’ve been punched by the strongest people many times, but I’m still here today. That never changed me. Just because I took a loss from Ruiz, I don’t think that’s enough to change someone. Every fighter trains hard, but it’s the character that separates us, and I’ve got a lot of character.”
ANTHONY JOSHUA TACTICS
On his tactics for Pulev, Joshua added: “I’m going to go into the fight, I’m definitely going to get hit. He’s going to get hit, it’s going to be last man standing.
“It’ll be good for the fans, but my focus will be just on Pulev. No disrespect to the fans coming in but I’ve got a serious job I need to complete. God willing I’m confident I’ll enjoy the victory after.
“I’ve known Kubrat Pulev for many years. I was in the training camp when his brother was sparring Warren Baister. Plus, I was in Klitschko’s camp when he prepared for Pulev. I understand some of the tactics that need to go into beating him.
“I’m prepared for the fight to go to the final bell. I feel like I’m a 15 round fighter, not a 12-round fighter. If it needs to go 12 rounds, I’ll be more than capable of carrying my stamina, my boxing IQ, concentration, and strength until the final bell.”
Promoter Eddie Hearn concluded: “This is the curtain closer for a difficult 2020, but it doesn’t get any bigger.
“The unified World Heavyweight Championship between Anthony Joshua and his Mandatory Challenger Kubrat Pulev.”