Joshua eyes one ‘last run’ to become heavyweight champion again
Anthony Joshua is planning a ‘last run’ at the heavyweight title, saying he hopes to become a three-time champion before he turns 35, writes boxingnews24.com.
The Englishman takes on Jermaine Franklin at London’s O2 Arena on Saturday, his first ring appearance since losing for a second time to Oleksandr Usyk last summer.
Joshua, who is 34 in October, admitted he craved the respect afforded by his peers for being champion, as he looks to join the great Muhammad Ali, as the only heavyweight to win titles on three occasions.
“It’s been a great run,” Joshua, the former WBA, WBO and IBF belt-holder admitted.
“The thing is, I do and I did want respect from people in the industry that I admire, ex-legends in the game and when you’re not a champion any more you feel like that has gone away.
“So, that was definitely something I was yearning for – respect from ex-champions and … it’s all good. We move forward. I’m not really doing it for that purpose any more because I’m not in that position. One is definitely to become champion, which I think is possible within the next 16 months.
“I think we’ve got to see what happens this year with the belts. Let them be competed for and then potentially let them go up in the air and then we’ll see where the belts land. Then just stay consistent, stay focused on improving for these next 12 to 16 months while I’m in title contention.”
This is Joshua’s first fight under the tutelage of new trainer, Derrick James, and it could be his last. If AJ loses to Franklin, Derrick will likely be quietly shown the door, and a search for a new trainer will be underway.
Joshua (24-3, 22 KOs) laughs at the people who see his career being on the line because he doesn’t view it that way.
That is to say, Joshua won’t retire if he gets beaten by Franklin (21-1, 14 KOs), which should make his promoter, Eddie Hearn, pleased because he freely admits that he’s worried about this fight.
Franklin should be unbeaten after getting robbed last November in London in schooling Dillian Whyte for 12 rounds.
The way Franklin looked in that fight, it’s not hard to imagine him doing a number on Joshua, beating him as badly as Andy Ruiz Jr did and/or Oleksandr Usyk did.
“I hope I’m victorious on April 1 because apparently, if I lose against him, my career is done, and that means no one will let me fight by the sound of things.
“I just need to make sure I live in my own realms. This is a serious fighter. He’s not on a comeback fight, and I’m not going to lose. So there is no IF. I’ve got to stay focused on winning,” said Joshua.
Two of Joshua’s most recent wins have come against boxers, who went on to fight into their 40s in Kubrat Pulev and Alexander Povetkin.
Meanwhile, Wladimir Klitschko was 41 when Joshua beat him in stunning fashion at Wembley in 2016, but the former Olympic champion does not envisage himself following in their footsteps and hinted he could walk away if he can reign supreme one more time in the heavyweight division.
Joshua added: “This run is like, what can it go on for? Three, four years? If I was going to do another run after this, you’re talking about fighting into my 40s and I truly believe that boxing’s a young man’s sport.
“It takes a real solid character like Bernard Hopkins, [George] Foreman, Klitschko, Povetkin to go on into their forties and stuff, but I think this is a run I want to make successful and then, you know, hopefully go out on top.”
Changes have been made after Usyk inflicted a third defeat on Joshua’s professional career last August.
Derrick James is the British boxer’s new trainer – after Robert Garcia departed following one fight – and the ‘main voice,’ according to the two-time heavyweight champion, which was in contrast before his second clash with Usyk when Garcia and Angel Fernandez were both feeding him information.
A victory for Joshua, whose record stands at 24 wins with three losses, could propel him quickly backs into title contention.