Ahead of Anthony Joshua’s title defense against Carlos Takam this Saturday in Cardiff, Joshua held a media conference call where he discussed the bout. Anthony Joshua also answered some questions about a future showdown with Deontay Wilder. Check out a transcript from the call below...
“We’re back again October 28 against Carlos Takam. I could say a million things about Takam because I’m studying him. At the end of the day, there’s two things that I’m focusing on. One is that it’s just like another fight and the second is winning. Then we can all move on to see what 2018 holds. I’m sure that’s going to be a promising year.”
On his viewpoint of how he felt when opponent was changed from Kubrat Pulev to Carlos Takam:
“I was a bit baffled. You know how it is when you’re a fighter, you say ‘I’m going to fight with one arm, one eye, one leg.’ I didn’t expect him to stand down the opportunity but I do understand that he wanted to be 100 percent. Nowadays, there’s a lot of science to the sport so he probably had to get advice from his doctors, so I get it. But it’s a shame because there was just something about Pulev and wanting to outclass him. My mindset with Takam…I don’t know. He’s veteran where you take a lot to give a lot. It’s just switching up my mindset about the style of fight I’m going to engage in now. That was the main disappointment.”
On his thoughts about some point fighting in the U.S.:
“I’m excited. I’m very excited. I would love to fight the great champions that the United States has produced. At the same time, I’ll fight anywhere. I’m fine staying in the UK, but America’s definitely at the top of the pyramid for sure. The thing is, before I wanted to go out there for the experience but now I want to go out there and make me some money. For what fight, that’s what’s going to be interesting.”
On if he foresees a showdown with Deontay Wilder in 2018:
“Anytime. I think so. I think he’s what the division needs and I think this is what Wilder needs, so we’ll give it to them. I say it’s definitely a potential for 2018. What else am I going to do in 2018 provided that I don’t have any mandatories? I’ll be a free agent. If dealt with right with Eddie Hearn and the U.S., I think it could be built to be something just like the Klitschko fight. It should be better.”
On if he foresees the Wilder fight being in the U.S.:
“I think so. I could tell you a million things but the reason I’m saying that is because I do have some real professional people in the background advising me as well. I can see it happening in the U.S. If you came to Wembley on April 29, you saw what that was like. It was phenomenal. That was really good. So do we want to create that again or should we go overseas and do something new? It’s good to have options.”
On the timeline of events and mindset after Takam was announced as the replacement for Pulev:
“There was no doubt in my mind that I would still fight. If Eddie had opponents lined up, I was definitely still going to fight. There was no point in my mind where I thought that I’m not going to compete or didn’t know what I was going to do. A real bonus is that I always work on myself in the gym so I haven’t had like 100 Pulev clones coming to the gym. I haven’t been working just solely on the style to defeat Pulev. I’ve been working on improving on my weaknesses and building on my strengths. So, when I heard I wasn’t going to be fighting him and that the next guy in line was Takam, it was like OK, cool, because I’ve still been developing myself anyways.
“You could put me with anyone. What I’ve worked on in the gym and what I’ve built myself two of these last three months, I should be able to fight anyone. I’m just happy that I don’t have to wait because it probably would have been March or April. That would have been a year out of the ring. I don’t think now is the time to be taking that much time out so I’m really grateful that the show could still go on.”
On if from a fighter’s perspective there’s financial pressure involved in whether or not the show should go on regardless of the replacement:
“No. When I look at Pulev. He was getting the pay day. He had to make the decision. From a fighter’s point of view, you have to put the fighter first. From a second point of view, I don’t want to take the opportunity from a lot of my friends on the undercard because they’re not going to make their money. Then you’ve got to think of the fans as well because there’s so many people that book hotels, travel, time off work. Before I think of myself, I think of all these other people that have come out to have a good time and are dependent on me. So that’s why I said I’m really happy that the show could go on, not just for me. A lot of people would have lost out that night.”
On his reaction to Deontay Wilder claiming nobody wants to fight him after Luis Ortiz pulled out:
“[Laughing] When I heard Pulev pulled out, I was going to do the same thing. I thought that’s what the champions are doing these days. I find it funny. It’s like Twitter fingers now. Like doing your business behind closed doors. Ortiz failed a drug test, so be it, move onto the next one. Ortiz comes off his ban and you box him then. No need to cry about it and say that nobody wants to fight you. Of course we want to fight you, you’re the champion. You’re the hunted. He just needs to start thinking that way and stop feeling sorry for himself. Just keep quiet and don’t show any weakness in this game. This is heavyweight boxing. This ain’t featherweight boxing.”
On why he thinks Deontay Wilder needs a potential heavyweight showdown more than he does:
“I fought Jason Gavern in maybe my 12th fight. Deontay Wilder is fighting in his 34th fight maybe his 35th fight. Where I’m coming from is that in a career, it’s all good going undefeated and looking good. But when it’s all said and done, how are people going to remember you? He hasn’t had any memorable fights. He needs a real remarkable fight to stamp his name in the history books of heavyweight boxing. He needs that more right now. Especially being in America. This is the mecca of boxing. I even need it. I need Wilder to have a remarkable fight. I need to be the one that steps up to make this dream a reality. I would be honored to go out there and compete with Wilder.”
On what he’s learned from almost being defeated by Klitschko:
“Now when I watch boxing, I watch it completely different. 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.”
On if he thinks he’s the biggest attraction in boxing and comfortable with shouldering that responsibility:
“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.”
On the challenges Takam presents as compared to Pulev:
“To have a style like Takam’s, not a lot of people have long careers. He just eats up a little bit of ground each round. He could throw a jab, right hand to the head, left hook, right hook and be looking good and all of a sudden, everything he’s doing wasn’t working because the person you’re fighting is still coming. So, I think by round six, seven or eight he starts applying pressure because he’s got that type of fighter with the ‘I’m going to absorb and measure everything you do’ mindset which is a dangerous style.
“I’ve fought Breazeale, Molina, and Klitschko and for Kubrat Pulev I’ve focused on a lot of taller fighters. They say Carlos Takam fights at 6-foot-2, but he probably fights at 6-foot bent down and crouched over. All in all, what goes down in the history books is whether I win or lose. I just got to do whatever I got to do to get this win. Because it’s really important for me and the sport of boxing because it sets up several fights in the future.”
On if the fight with Takam is tougher than what Pulev would have presented:
“I think he’s tougher and can take more but I don’t think he’s smarter for that reason. What’s going to be tougher…the smarter fighter who’s going to make me think more or the guy who’s going to make me run? That’s what’s going to be interesting. I think I definitely might see him in the future.”
On being compared to Lennox Lewis:
“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.
On if he’s spent any time around Lennox Lewis and if he’s made any comments on his career:
“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.”
On if there’s a timetable to unify the title and if so does Deontay Wilder need to have a great fight to build the hype:
“There’s no time scale. You kind of just roll with the punches. We were fighting for the British title and then the Charles Martin opportunity presented itself. Then the Klitschko fight presented itself. And now we have a mandatory and you have to take that so we’re rolling with the punches, but there’s opportunities above him in the background. Deontay Wilder doesn’t need a better performance to compete. He’s a heavyweight, he’s a champion. He’s winning and that speaks enough. We have to give credit where credit is due so if that’s the case, that will definitely be respected for sure.”
On if Deontay Wilder is a priority:
“That guy’s been a professional since 2009. I started boxing in 2008. He’s been a professional a year longer than I’ve been boxing my whole career. He needs these fights. It’s a different ballgame. The only thing that’s given me credibility is the fact that I’ve gone and unified the division. He doesn’t need to have a remarkable performance or fight any household name because he’s been doing this for so long.
“I think the reason why he’s more desperate is because boxing writers have called him out. Who’s the next person on the list? Attach your name to the best brand in the business and people will listen so he’s just calling me out because he knows I’m the hot take in the business right now. He’s just doing what any businessman would do. I look at my situation and say after this Takam situation, what does the WBA say about a mandatory situation? Only God knows what could happen with my situation. I always look at it from a realistic point of view.
“I’ll fight Wilder next year and make it a priority 100 percent. There’s no doubt about that. But I’m going to be real and say these are the reasons why he’s probably doing what he’s doing. It could potentially happen but maybe not the next fight I have because of certain mandatories. Or do I just say I’m going to give up my belt because it’s what he wants or what I want? We have to make a careful decision in the making of this fight.”
EDDIE HEARN, Joshua’s Promotor, Matchroom Boxing
“We’re just over a week away from another huge event as Stephen [Espinoza] said. Seventy-five thousand people at the biggest indoor boxing event in Europe of all time. It’s going to be an incredible atmosphere and just a wonderful night of boxing. I think with Floyd’s [Mayweather] departure from the sport, he is unquestionably the biggest star in the world of boxing. The amount of interest in him has been incredible. We will of course thank SHOWTIME after the sixth episode of Anthony Joshua’s world championship career. Thank you to Stephen and all the guys at SHOWTIME and their effort. It’s extremely valued for myself and Anthony. And for the fight next week, Carlos Takam replaces Pulev. Anthony’s been training for a 6-foot-5, full-ranging awkward guy and now we have a 6-foot-2 little guy who’s going to come at you non-stop. Jabbing, punching, overhand right, hook, relentless pressure. He’s going to come across Anthony Joshua looking absolutely the best he’s ever looked in camp. We can’t wait for a wonderful show.”
On his desires to bring Anthony Joshua to the U.S. to defend the heavyweight title:
“He’s definitely on the radar. Like Anthony said, it’s definitely part of the scrapbook to be produced in the years to come. If you want to try and change the game and break down boundaries, that includes America, Africa and the Middle East as well. It’s hard to leave the UK with 75,000 to 90,000 people compared to what the U.S. is. But Anthony Joshua is a global brand. He’s not British heavyweight champion, he’s a world heavyweight champion. The key now is to get the win on October 28 and then in the weeks that follow, put our plans together for 2019 and hopefully America is included in that.”
On if working with Danny Jacobs changes his work with Joshua and if he anticipates Joshua staying on SHOWTIME despite Deontay Wilder’s connection to the network:
“Absolutely. We appreciate the way they’re building Anthony Joshua’s brand. Matchroom Boxing is one business and Anthony Joshua is another business. Anthony has involvement in our U.S. business as well. Ultimately, this is the channel that he fights on. He’s not dependent on Matchroom Boxing USA. We’ll do the right thing for Anthony.”
STEPHEN ESPINOZA, Executive Vice President & General Manager, SHOWTIME Sports
“This will be the fifth Anthony Joshua fight that will be telecast on SHOWTIME here in the states. We’re very proud of our association with A.J. and with Matchroom and it is part of giving fans the biggest fights and the best fighters. A.J. definitely fits that criteria. He is without a doubt the consensus No. 1 heavyweight in the world. We last saw him in April in a thrilling, career-defining fight and knockout of Wladimir Klitschko in front of a record crowd of 90,000 people. That fight was broadcast in over 150 countries, including live in the U.S. on SHOWTIME. On Oct. 28 we expect another spectacle of similar scale. He’s got an experienced challenger and we expect a rabid crowd of 70,000 and we are proud to bring it you on SHOWTIME starting live at 5 p.m. Eastern and 2 p.m. Pacific.”