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Anthony Joshua: ‘I want to be respected globally, not just in the UK’

Anthony Joshua talks Andy Ruiz Jr, Deontay Wilder, Dillian Whyte, and more.

Scott Christ is the managing editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2006.

Anthony Joshua (22-0, 21 KO) is set to defend his WBA, IBF, and WBO heavyweight titles this Saturday night on DAZN, making his US debut at Madison Square Garden.

Joshua spoke a bit about that fight on Thursday, but was asked more about Deontay Wilder, of course, even though he tried to steer the focus elsewhere.

On the division

“The heavyweight division is one to be spoken about now, which is good, along with so many different challengers and competitors. Even though an athlete or a fighter will always say, ‘I have to focus solely on my opponent on June 1st,’ I’m not going to lie and say I don’t always look to that bigger picture — who’s in front of me, who’s beside me, and also who’s behind me.

“We’ve seen the situation with Deontay Wilder, he’s fighting Luis Ortiz, so that’s something we don’t need to speak about anymore. We all know what he’s doing. I was really focused on getting this win Saturday so me and (Wilder) could have a sit-down and discuss the fight for 2019.

“With Andy Ruiz, I know a lot about him — his amateur record, I know his coach well. We were at the World Championships together in Baku back in 2011, so his current coach has been around me and seen me perform as an amateur and probably watched me as a professional, so he knows a lot about me.

“I know a lot about Andy Ruiz. He turned professional, actually, the year after I started learning boxing. He’s been around a long time. He knows his craft. Some will say it’s going to be an easy fight for me, and some would probably say he’s going to cause me problems. It’s all about on the night. No matter what we watch on YouTube or look at appearance-wise, I feel like you can never comprehend the reality of facing someone in front of you, no matter what you watch on YouTube.

“Saturday night we should be in for a good fight. I’m going to try to limit the mistakes I make to make it an easy fight, however mistakes make fights exciting, so I’m going to be confident in my own ability, exchanging, and try and get him out of there in good fashion.”

On Ruiz saying Joshua is looking past him

“That’s what I’m saying, I’m not going to lie, everyone speaks about, ‘Oh I’m fully focused on June 1st’ — well I am, that’s what I’ve been practicing and preparing for, but you can’t not look at the bigger picture. I’m sure he’s doing it himself. ‘When I become champion, I’m going to do this, I’m going to get my Snickers deal,’ you know? You naturally look at the bigger picture. I’m not looking past him, but I definitely don’t put blinkers on to see the potential — if I beat this guy, what’s out there for me?”

On what’s out there without Wilder

“Coming to America, going back to the UK, I feel like commercially, in terms of the sport of boxing, a good win kinda keeps us at the top of the sport. We look forward to hopefully Fury, there’s Usyk, Michael Hunter, Pulev, Dillian. Then there’s the up-and-coming fighters, Joyce, Hrgovic — good fighters out there. Even though it’s not the Fight of the Century or the mega-fight, the possibilities of still being in the mix as champion is what keeps me motivated.”

On what he thought of the Wilder-Ortiz II announcement

“If it was me, if I rematched Povetkin next — if I went and rematched Povetkin next, I think I would’ve — I dunno, I’ve got a bit more pressure than most people. It is what it is. He makes the decisions that I’m able to make if I wanted to, but I try not to. If it was me, how would they have dealt with me? It’s good, because these guys, they’re five years, six years ahead of me in their pro lives. I learn from these guys and their decisions. If I do rematch Povetkin next, I don’t want to hear anyone complaining, because it’s the way of the beast now. (laughing)”

(Eddie Hearn: “We’re not rematching Povetkin.”)

On Ortiz maybe upsetting Wilder

“I think Ortiz would be quicker to fight me than Wilder, so it’s not a bad thing. It’s not actually a bad thing. The division — it’s impossible for Wilder to probably stay champion for the rest of his time. He’s had close fights with Molina, with Fury, with Ortiz. It’s coming close to a time where that belt should change hands.”

“It’s not so much about (fighting) Wilder, it’s more about what I can achieve. When we look at what we’re doing in terms of working outside of boxing, commercializing the sport — even if I fought Ortiz, it could be a Fight of the Century anyway, because it’s undisputed. Wilder’s still building his profile and stuff like that. It’s not so much about Wilder, it’s the undisputed. It could be Ruiz and Ortiz, it’s still a massive fight for the undisputed, I think. It’s just that we’ve worked tirelessly to build a profile outside of boxing, so when it does happen, it’s already at the pinnacle of where it should be commercially. We’re not, like, ‘Now the undisputed’s here, let’s promote it.’ We’ve been promoting this for years.”

“Wilder’s done a great job of talking up a fight. He’s proven himself by winning, but talking up a fight that he hasn’t managed to make yet. It’s all irrelevant what you say unless you back it up.”

On Mayweather-Pacquiao and Joshua-Wilder comparisons

“The problem is — yeah, you’re right, it does get bigger, but I’m fighting good fighters, not Wilder for instance, but I’m fighting decent fighters who have given me problems and are giving me risks. Why don’t I just fight Wilder, who’s gonna give me problems and give me a risk, anyway? Even though it’s bubbling and stuff, which is fine, I’m still taking risks, and I’d rather take the risk against someone who brings a massive reward. Beating Ruiz is fine, but it doesn’t give me that massive — if you had Ruiz and Wilder side-by-side, Wilder gets me here and Ruiz gets me here. I’d rather just go down that route and fight Wilder.”

On Dillian Whyte getting a rematch

“I was supposed to fight Dillian April 13th with a lucrative offer, and he turned it down. If that fight was to happen again, I don’t know what Eddie or my coaches would go back with, because that was a great offer. We were looking for an opponent, desperate, we gave everything we could to Dillian, and he didn’t want to fight for the championship. If we were to go back again if I get past Ruiz, I don’t know what more we could go to to get Dillian in that ring.”

On the Ruiz build-up being flat

“I think it’s been quite interesting. The whole speculation around what’s happening next, you had the Wilder-Breazeale fight, you’ve got the Fury-Schwarz fight after, me in the middle. You had the Miller situation.”

On being tempted to stay in the US for his next fight

“I don’t mind where I fight. The UK is my home base and kinda raised me, so there’s loyalty there. But as a world champion, you fight around the world. Here a few times in my career is fine with me. London’s good to me. There’s no problem wherever. Wherever the opportunity presents itself is where we’re willing to go.”

On his experience in New York

“Trump owns a hell of a lot of buildings. I like Mike Tyson a lot, as well. We watch American movies, love American music, American sports. So there’s going to be a lot of American superstars and American influence in that room Saturday night. That’s why I can’t afford a flat night, I’ve got to show I’m amongst these great athletes America has produced.

“Years ago, I felt like Britain were overlooked a bit in terms of sports. British coming to the States would get battered. I feel that in the end I want to be respected globally, not just in the UK... (I have to be) clever, skills, use my ability, use what I’ve been learning, and show that I’m a fighter that’s got so much more to give. In the next x amount of years, what else will I be able to produce? ... (Wilder and I) are separate. My competition is with myself. I don’t get confidence out of comparing. But I look forward to matching Deontay Wilder in the ring — not in terms of opponents, but just me and him.”

Bad Left Hook will have live coverage for Joshua vs Ruiz on Saturday, June 1, live at 5:30 pm ET streaming on DAZN

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