Speaking to UK media via Zoom, Anthony Joshua reflects on life in lockdown and growing through adversity, and prepares for his comeback fight against Kubrat Pulev in front of 1,000 fans.
YOU have been out of the ring for a year now. While locking out was obviously difficult in many ways, did it benefit you to get out of the pressure cooker?
The lockdown was difficult for everyone. Everyone is waiting to be able to socialize again, and we're getting there slowly. But if you think about it, when I turned pro I was selling O2 right away, and with that there is pressure. Building sport also with my companies, which have done an excellent job, is to put myself forward. With them arrested during the pandemic, I was able to spend my time training. I have lived these months as an athlete and it has been a blessing as I have improved a lot.
Following the longest layoff of your professional career, there could be a risk of ring rust when you fight Kubrat Pulev?
Oh definitely. This year has just thrown us all obstacles. That's what makes this fight so interesting. I could go there smelling a million bucks, saying I'm going to be the undisputed champion, and then I end up getting my head pointed because I got rust. So who knows? But I feel good. I can not wait to be there. I haven't boxed for so long, but that's why locked out, I did a lot of training - physical and mental. I did a lot of sparring - I made my body harder, I got hit. Sometimes in sparring, I was like, 'I'm going to take this round and let this boy hit me, because I need to be hard. I need this thick skin. This is the best way to prepare myself and I hope it comes to fruition on December 12th.
Pulev is a potential banana peel, like Andy Ruiz Jnr turned out to be when you first fought him. Is this defeat buried in your past or does it still motivate you?
I feel like Ruiz's defeat is buried for me because I made no apologies, took it and dealt with it six months later [by winning the rematch]. Knowing what it was like to lose and not wanting to go back definitely made me harder - it gave me that motivation. I want to prove to myself how good I've gotten over the past year - to be locked out and training like an athlete. I want to see what the benefits of training this year as a real athlete. Pulev is experienced and he has a good kick, so I'm going to have to dodge and dive, slide and slide. I can't be straightforward and stiff. I'm also going to have to adopt an elusive style. I had to work on all of these tactical aspects so I can't wait to see where I am.
Your victory against Ruiz came in Saudi Arabia. How was the experience of fighting there?
I think it was a great success. For me, losing the belts and then regaining them is my success. I focused on training camp and winning the fight. Winning my belt was a huge success for me as I was under a lot of pressure. You saw it recently with Daniel Dubois - he has so much potential, but a loss can really turn the basket of apples upside down. With the Ruiz rematch, I knew I just couldn't afford to lose. I had to go to Arabia, follow a strict game plan and regain my belts. That's what I did, so I think it was a big success for me. As for the event itself, it presented Arabia as a welcoming country for people from all over the world, so I think they were really happy.
Can you see yourself fighting again in the future?
There was great hospitality in Arabia and great reviews so this is definitely an option. I've been away for over two years, but I'm back in the UK now and want to stay here as long as possible. When I first turned pro I had offers from America and Germany, but I knew the UK was where I wanted to be. I'm clear on this - that's where my base is and it's always my priority. But the fighters must also travel. There is a feeling of pioneer and warrior of the road, so I don't mind hitting the road anymore. I did this last year and will do it again. I really want to go back to MSG [Madison Square Garden, New York] where I took the loss to Ruiz, so it's on the cards.
How do you feel about being back in London for the Pulev fight?
It's perfect. There is this familiarity. I started here at Finchley ABC, then moved to Sheffield where I'm based now to train. I fought at York Hall, O2, Wembley, Cardiff, Newcastle… I was scattered all over the UK. It's comfortable, because I don't have to travel anywhere. It's good to be here. It makes it easier.
You have to be happy that 1000 people will be present, rather than having to fight behind closed doors?
That's the whole production element - the boxing during the lockdown just wasn't the same without the fan response and noise. At the same time, I enjoyed it. It was fun to sit down and watch him. The fighters [who have boxed behind closed doors] have adapted well. But it's gonna be nice for people [at the fight]because when will there be another chance to see a heavyweight championship fight when there are only 1000 people in the room? It's going to be intimate, it's going to be a closed circuit crowd. You won't have to worry about your miss having a pint of beer thrown over her head! Or 15 guys by your side to fight. It might be nice for the spectators.
When was the last time you got into a fight in front of a crowd of a similar size?
The last time I got into a fight in front of a small crowd? I think it was Hungary [at the Bocskai tournament in February 2012]. i fought [Sergey] Kuzmin and someone from Uzbekistan, a great guy [Sardor Abdullaev]. It was pretty decent, you know. This is not bad. The pressure is off, you can get into your rhythm. I think I need it sometimes - I'm under a lot of pressure. I am physically good but mentally you have to stay strong. This has been a good year to take a lot of pressure off, and fighting in front of 1,000 fans isn't that bad. You have to take it as a positive and control what you can control. A thousand fans are allowed and I can't add or take away from it. I'm going to go out there and play it without pressure and showcase the styles that I've merged, that stick and move, and aggressiveness and knockout power.
You were set to face Pulev for the first time three years ago, but an injury ruled it out. At 39, do you think he declined during that time?
As for Pulev, three years ago, maybe it was too early for me. I am more experienced now. I am wiser. I lost a fight and I never want to lose a fight again - I know what it feels like. Pulev is also wiser. With age comes experience and I'm going to be there with a man who is mentally strong and experienced. As we've all seen with people like Alexander Povetkin and Wladimir Klitschko, and Mike Tyson and Roy Jones, age is just a number.
You say you are wiser and more experienced now, so do you think Pulev missed his chance three years ago?
I was thinking about it the other day. I went through much of my career not even knowing what I was doing. I was just fighting. I watched the [Eric] Molina is fighting the other day, I watched a bit [Carlos] Takam fight, I watched Klitschko fight and I was like, 'Wow, how was I in this type of fights with the little experience I had? Looking at who I am today I like to think a lot and think, 'I was just a puppy [back then], a little puppy. I feel stronger now. I feel smarter and that's the same thing I say with the other guys I want to fight. The longer they leave it on, the harder it is going to be for them, because experience is the best teacher and I gain so much experience every day that I go to the gym.
One of the "other guys" is your fellow world heavyweight champion, Tyson Fury. If the fight between you two takes place next year, do you think it could take place at Wembley Stadium?
It's always for the fans. The leadership teams and the promotion teams are also going to do what's financially viable - which will get Fury to come into this ring, which will bring me into this ring. It's a balance. Damned if you do, damned if you don't. The main objective is to carry out this fight. There is definitely the element that fans are most important to and bring them together to watch a British classic. What finances can we muster to bring Fury into the ring? It's tough but I would definitely go for the fans this time around for sure.
So would you take less money to fight in the UK rather than abroad?
Yes why not? I'm fighting Pulev for a massive pay cut. We need to keep the sport alive. Matchroom is going through pay cuts this year as we need to keep the sport alive. We all do our part by the minute. That's the whole experience. We're doing it now, so I wouldn't mind doing it all over again. It doesn't hurt me, and it's for a bigger cause too. It's a massive cause and a big fight, but the main focus is how to get Fury into the ring.
Book and watch Anthony Joshua vs. Kubrat Pulev on December 12, live on Sky Sports Box Office.
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A quick list of seize basic boxing tips your trainer should have told you. These boxing tips will improve your boxing training, boxing punching, and boxing defense. Good luck !
Stay calm and punch lighter on the bag so you can last more rounds, keep your form together, and punch sharp. This will allow you to get in more minutes of quality bagwork. You want to have energy to hit the bag with satisfaisant form and keep your punches snappy, instead of spending most of your bagwork panting and huffing to show that you have “heart”. Don’t waste energy showing off on the bag – nobody cares.
Don’t workout till complete failure. Get tired, break a sweat, and just push yourself a little more each day. If you go until failure everyday of the week without a reason, you’ll probably overtrain and quit boxing very soon.
Drink lots of water. One cup every hour peu ! Make friends in the gym, be humble, and ask people for boxing tips. When another puncher beats you, ask him how he did it; you may be surprised at how helpful he might be at showing you your own weaknesses.
Turn your whole body into the punch. If your feet are slow, ( most people have slow feet at first ) you will find that punching a little slower actually hits harder than punching faster. So in other words, punch as fast as your body can turn so you won’t sacrifice power. Again, use your whole body instead of just the arms to punch. Throw short hooks, bermuda uppercuts, and bermuda rights but long jabs. You don’t always have to throw one knockout punch after another. Combo light and punches and use head movement to fake out your opponent. Remember that the harder you try, they harder they will counter, and the harder you will get hurt. Calm down and throw the hard punches when you know they’ll land. Never forget to go to the body. Try a jab to the head, and right hand to the body. When you’re in real close, lean your head inside to smother him and throw 2-3 body punches. Throw 3-5 punch combos maximum. You don’t need 10-punch combos – all those do is sap your energy and leave you open to counters. Don’t even practice these for now. Breathe out when you punch and always look at your target when you punch. Don’t hold your breath and don’t look at the ground. Learn to keep your eyes open during the heat of the battle ! Let your hands go ! Don’t wait around forever to let your opponent hit you all day. Throw something even if it doesn’t land. Keep him thinking and keep your eyes open for more punching opportunities.
Stay calm and never stop breathing. If you’re starting to panic, ask the other guy to slow down so your mind and body can catch up. Hold your hands high, elbows low, and move your head. Don’t waste energy course around the ring, just take one step and pivot out of the way if your opponent is overly aggressive. Think of yourself as a matador pivoting out of the way as the bull misses. Don’t forget to hit him back. Don’t lean back and don’t take your eyes off your opponent when you’re taking punches ( this is especially for most beginners ). Establish your ground and defend it with counters. Pivot so that you don’t get countered. Don’t always wait for your opponent to finish punching before you start punching back. Interrupt his combos and hit him ! Too many speedy fighters get caught up in trying to block all the oncoming punches that they never get to counter. Let your hands go !
When starting out, boxers will usually first be taught how to fight at a distance, also known as ‘outfighting’, rather than getting in close where they are more likely to be hit. The skills used here include arm’s-length punches and quick footwork to enable the puncher to deliver a blow before their opponent can respond. It is the best way to tire out and attack an opponent, and lessens their chance of a counterattack.
The following boxing techniques are described for right-handed boxers ( if you are a left-handed or a ‘southpaw’ puncher then use the opposite arm or leg to what is being described ).
The importance of a good stance cannot be stressed enough. A good stance provides balance, and is a key to both attacking and defensive techniques. Boxers should be able to throw a punch without losing their balance. Being off balance allows an opponent to get in with their own blows. to assume a good boxing stance, you need to do the following :
Stand sideways to the target, so that you lead with the shoulder opposite that of your strong punching hand. A right-handed vous défouler sur should point their left shoulder toward the target. Feet should be kept shoulder width apart, then step forward one pace with the left foot and line up the heel of your left foot with the toes of your other foot. Turn both feet at a quarante cinq degree angle to your target. Your weight should be evenly distributed to provide a firm, steady platform. Bend your knees and hips slightly, keeping your back fairly straight and lift your back heel off the floor, no more than about sept. 5cm ( 3in ). Tuck your elbows in close to your sides and raise your forearms so that they shield the chest. Hold the left glove out at shoulder height and keep it far enough out to attack, but close enough to draw back quickly in defense. The right glove should be held underneath the chin with the wrist turned inwards.
The golden rules of boxing footworkGood footwork is important to enable the frapper to defend or attack from a balanced place. The golden rules of boxing footwork are as follows : Keep the weight balanced on both feet. Keep your feet apart as you move to maintain good balance. Move around the ring using bermuda sliding steps on the balls of your feet. Never let your feet cross. Always move the foot closest to the direction in which you want to move first.
The key to good footwork is speed, and this can be enhanced by improving fitness, with particular attention to the legs. One good activity for improving sport, used by many boxers, is skipping. PunchingThere are four main punches in boxing : Jab — a sudden punch. Cross — a straight punch. Hook — a bermuda side punch. Uppercut — a short swinging upward punch.
The Jab ( Left Jab ) This is the simplest but most-used punch in boxing, and likely to be the first punch any beginner would learn. The jab can be used both for attack or defense, and is useful to keep the opponent at bay to set up bigger blows. Hold your left hand up high with your elbow in close to your body. Aim for the opponent’s chin with the back knuckles. Rotate the arm so that the punch lands with the thumb making a small clockwise turn inwards. Slide the left foot forward before effet and snap the hand back ready to deliver another jab. The chin should be dropped to the shoulder to protect it, and the right hand held high ready to block any counter punches.
The CrossA ‘straight right’This is the most powerful and damaging punch, but it may leave the boxer open to a counterattack if it fails to connect. It is best used in a combination of punches, usually after the opponent’s defense has opened up after being hit with a good left jab. Drive off the back foot and pivot the hips and shoulders into the punch for maximum power. Straighten the right arm so that it is at full stretch on impact. Keep the left hand in a guarding place to avoid a counter.
A ‘straight left’This is a good way of keeping an opponent on the back foot. From the basic stance simply straighten your left arm and twist your hips and shoulders into the punch. The first will automatically twist so the knuckles are up and the palm downwards just before impact. If there is room, slide the left foot forward for the blow, but quickly bring up the right foot to maintain balance.
HookThe hook comes from the side so can catch the opponent unaware as it initially comes from out of their vision. The hook requires the boxer to arch and turn their body into a punch. It can be made with either the left or right arm. A right hookBring the chin down to the inside of the left shoulder to protect it. Pivot the toes, hips and hand in the direction of the punch. Turn your hand over so that at the point of effet, the palm faces down.
UppercutThe uppercut can be a great knockout punch and is delivered at close quarters. It comes up from underneath, has an element of surprise, and is usually aimed at the jaw with either hand. One drawback is that if it doesn’t take the opponent out, there is a big chance they will be able to deliver a counterattack. to make a right uppercut, transfer the weight onto the right foot and twist the shoulders and hips to the left, bringing the right first directly up into the target. Leaning back too much will send the vous défouler sur off balance.
a retenir to boxing techniquesWhile a right-handed vous défouler sur will obviously favour their right hand as it will be their strongest, they should be prepared to work with both hands. In any case, the jab — the most frequently used in a bout — for a right hander will be with the left hand, while he prepares to get through with a big right handed shot. Here we have focused on just a few of the basic punches from the point of view of a right hander, but the vous défouler sur must remember that a left hook or left uppercut, for example, can be just as effective given practice. In some circumstances, it may even be a good tactic for the frapper to change stance and fight as if he were a left-handed boxer.