Joshua: It’s a Brutal Sport, It’s Tough – If You Know Boxing, This is a New Era of Heavyweights

Boxing Scene

Anthony Joshua is ready to risk it all in order to reposition himself as a heavyweight champion once again. 

Joshua seemingly has a big-money matchup against Deontay Wilder waiting in the wings later this winter, but the British boxer is instead moving forward with a stay-busy fight of sorts against Robert Helenius on Saturday night. 

Joshua (25-3, 22 KOs) was originally supposed to fight Dillian Whyte in a rematch but Whyte was forced out of the bout this week due to adverse findings in a random VADA drug test. 

Joshua was adamant in finding an 11th-hour replacement opponent, and in stepped Helenius (32-4, 21 KOs), who after getting viciously knocked out by Wilder in October returned last Saturday and scored a third-round stoppage.

The 33-year-old Joshua realizes that he needs to build momentum and stack up wins in order to set up tantalizing tilts. 

“Even if I lose, I will still fight [Wilder and Tyson Fury]. Winning and losing just bring bargaining power to the negotiation table. It should never dictate whether to fight a fighter or not. Because everyone has still got a chance,” Joshua said in an interview with BoxingScene.com and a handful of other reporters. 

Out of the top five heavyweight fighters, Joshua is the only one to have fought this year – twice by the time Saturday comes around.

WBA, WBO, IBF, and IBO titlist Oleksandr Usyk will fight later this month against Daniel Dubois, and the WBC champion Fury will fight MMA fighter Francis Ngannou on Oct. 28. Wilder and Andy Ruiz Jr. do not have a fight scheduled yet, even though the duo have demanded a dance against each other amidst futile negotiations.  

“In the last year, I feel the division has changed a bit. People are taking time out. It’s a brutal sport. It’s tough … if you know boxing, this is a new era of heavyweights [and big guys],” said Joshua. “People probably just need to rest their bodies. And I feel people are not thick-skinned. They can’t take the constant pressure of media being in their face day to day. Sometimes people need a mental breather as well.”

Joshua could have fought the likes of Filip Hrgovic, Gerald Washington, and Derek Chisora – all of whom were featured on his undercard – but Helenius ultimately emerged as the winner. 

Joshua wants to exclusively fight top heavyweights moving forward to regain his status as the division’s top fighter. 

“I want to fight Frank Sanchez, Filip Hrgovic, Efe Ajagba, and Joe Joyce. I will do it, and you know me, I will do it,” said Joshua. “But I am also at the stage where it’s about getting the respect that comes with fighting these guys. If I go and do all this stuff, where does that leave me in the heavyweight conversation?”

Manouk Akopyan is a sports journalist, writer, and broadcast reporter. He’s also a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and the MMA Journalists Association. He can be reached on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube at @ManoukAkopyan, through email at manouk[dot]akopyan[at]gmail.com, or via www.ManoukAkopyan.com.

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