Anthony Joshua insisted he is ready and willing to take on all challengers ahead of his world heavyweight title showdown against Oleksandr Usyk, saying: “If you told me I was fighting King Kong, I would give it a go.”
Joshua puts his WBA, IBF and WBO titles on the line against his fellow London 2012 gold medallist, an unbeaten opponent who is a former undisputed world cruiserweight champion, at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium this weekend.
The pair were brought together following the collapse of Joshua’s all-British contest against Tyson Fury, with the Watford fighter then ordered by the WBO to fulfil his mandatory obligation against the Ukrainian southpaw.
While Usyk has had only two fights in boxing’s blue-riband division and he will be giving up physical advantages in height, reach and almost certainly weight, his skillset is rated among the best in any weight category.
Joshua, though, is adamant he had no intention of vacating one of his belts in order to swerve Usyk and is relishing a fight where more than 60,000 fans are set to swarm on north London on Saturday night.
“I don’t really fight good fighters because I want people to respect me or anything like that,” the 31-year-old said at a respectful press conference between the pair on Thursday afternoon.
“It’s not complicated: If you told me I was fighting King Kong, I would give it a go, honestly.
“It’s an opportunity for me to work, this is my job. I’m just going to work, he’s going to work. It’s a blessing. These are the best days of my life.”
After memorably claiming Olympic gold nine years ago, Joshua rose quickly through the paid ranks and won his first world title after just 16 fights – although he believes he is still capable of refining his skills.
Indeed, he revealed he has enjoyed the incremental improvements he has made since first stepping through the ropes and intends to return to training next Monday or Tuesday.
“I’m not an easy fight for anyone,” he added. “I like fighting, God has blessed me and showed me the path to get into boxing. It has to be a reason why I’m here, it’s been quick.
“When I started boxing I was absolutely s***. I’m still getting better.
“I like the challenges because I was training, come back three months later and beat the guys up who were giving me problems. I’d fight, if I lost I’d come back again.
“This fight gives me the motivation to practice. I’ve had fun in camp, it’s been demanding and challenging but we make it fun because it’s practice. When you can see improvements like a dog or a baby and you praise them, they want to do more and I want to give more and more each day.”
While Joshua came dressed in a tracksuit and cap, Usyk, 34, was in a garish three-piece red suit with a yellow tie. The fighters had a friendly handshake before the press conference and after an intense, but uneventful, staredown.
Usyk, who won gold the day before Joshua in the division below at London 2012, said: “I think me and Anthony are going to make another stat in history, something that people later will be talking about and people will remember.”