Anthony Joshua is confident that he is ‘still on the road to undisputed’ status as he prepares for his rematch with Oleksandr Usyk.
Joshua will take on Usyk in Saudi Arabia on 20 August, 11 months after losing the WBA, WBO, IBF and IBO heavyweight titles to the unbeaten Ukrainian.
The winner of the pair’s rematch could then face WBC title holder Tyson Fury to crown an undisputed champion, though the Briton has claimed to be retired as a professional boxer following his April knockout of Dillian Whyte.
If Joshua can overcome Usyk, it will mark the second time that “AJ” will have regained the belts. In June 2019, the Briton was knocked out by Andy Ruiz Jr in New York City, before outpointing the Mexican-American in December of the same year in Saudi Arabia.
Joshua’s only other loss came at the hands of fellow Olympic gold medalist Usyk last year, when the 35-year-old eased to a unanimous-decision win against the home fighter in London.
Joshua, 32, returned to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday for a pre-fight press conference ahead of his rematch with Usyk, who also took to the stage.
“Definitely the hunger is still there,” Joshua said. “Blips happen, things happen in life, but resilience, mental toughness and consistency will always prevail. We’re still on the road to undisputed for sure. God willing, I’ll perform and I’ll become three-time heavyweight champion of the world.”
“With Andy Ruiz, I think a lot of people could see before the [first] fight that things weren’t 100 per cent [with me]. But we take our loss like a man; if you lose, you have to stay humble. I knew I could come back again and do what I had to do.
“The fight with Usyk, he bust my a** for some rounds,” Joshua joked. “And I have to take that defeat like a man as well, I have to be accountable.
“In the fight in September, I was wrong and he was right. Simply I have to reverse that role in August. I don’t like to overcomplicate the situation, because there’s simplicity in genius. I’m just gonna keep things simple.
“If you know my story, you know I’m the comeback king. You can put me down, but it’s difficult to keep me down.”
Joshua has added Robert Garcia to his coaching team, while Angel Fernandez takes on greater responsibility in the set-up, with AJ’s long-time trainer Rob McCracken having stepped away – for the time being, at least.
“I’ve been going back and forth to England since December,” Garcia said. “I see a different Anthony now. I think he fought the wrong fight [in September], but that’s the past, that happened already.
“Come 20 August, we’re gonna do whatever it takes. [AJ] is the bigger man, he’s the stronger man, he’s got the reach advantage, so we’re gonna take advantage of all that.
“We’ve got to be prepared for everything. I think Anthony has all the tools to beat [Usyk], we just have to do the things [we do] in the gym.
“I have no doubt that on 20 August he will be champion again. All the hard work he does in the gym, it motivates me, also. I know how much he wants it, and I want my first heavyweight champion of the world.”
The rematch was originally expected to take place in spring, but Usyk instead returned to his native Ukraine to aid the country’s defence against the ongoing invasion by Russia.
At the pre-fight press conference on Tuesday, the former undisputed cruiserweight champion sent a message to his compatriots, saying: “As you all know, we are not in the best conditions at the moment back home.
“I never made some very loud and bright speeches, all I did was just work hard in my training camp, my gym, that’s what I’m gonna do until the date of the fight.
“Then I will enter the ring and I will make you happy with my boxing.”