Anthony Joshua has admitted to hurting since being in the challenger bracket after holding the belts for such a large portion of his career, and says that factors outside of the ring are diverting his focus.
‘AJ’ won his first belt in his 16th fight – the IBF. He added the WBO and IBO to that in his 19th with a career-defining win over Wladimir Klitschko. In his 21st fight, he beat Joseph Parker and for the WBA strap. Two fights later, he lost them all to Andy Ruiz Jr in New York, but an immediate rematch clause allowed him to win them back in Saudi not long after.
Now, with two consecutive defeats to Oleksandr Usyk, he’s further away from titles than he has been in a very long time – and building back is proving difficult. The Watford man spoke to DAZN on the broadcast for Dmitry Bivol versus Gilberto Ramirez, courtesy of Matchroom. The former champ hinted at some outside influences stunting his comeback progress.
“I was supposed to be in the ring this year, I’m gonna be in the ring next year. I’ll be in the ring when I’m in the ring, I don’t want to make any statements today. When I’m ready I’ll be back in the ring.”
“Do you know what it is? I ain’t champion and it’s hurting a lot. I’m in the gym rebuilding and restructuring everything that I’ve got to do inside and outside the ring. There’s a lot that goes on outside the ring in my life which makes my ring life complicated. So I just just need to simplify a lot of stuff outside the ring … and once I’ve got that done, next year we’ll I’ll be ready.”
“Boxing’s become a bit complicated for me. Everyone is just trying to make the most of this time while I’m boxing, and they’re doing a good job, but it does affect my ring activity as well. So I’m just always trying to push all that stuff away. It’s a challenge. I’m just trying to get it out the way this year so next year I can focus.”
Joshua’s openness about struggling with his state as a challenger is nice to see, given that many fighters often struggle with accepting defeat to the point that they don’t recognise that it happened.
Whilst not going into detail about what complications he’s referring to, many might think it’s marketing opportunities, sponsorship obligations, and promotional campaigns that he’s referring to. His face, after all, does lend itself to plenty of billboards.
With plenty of game opponents for the man who was once the face of British boxing and could well be again, here’s hoping he can focus on the sport once more.