The last time Anthony Joshua fought, people were legitimately arguing whether he had the mental fitness to continue on with his career.
It was August of last year and the one-time boxing top dog had just loss his second straight points decision to Oleksandr Usyk. It was the third loss in his last five fights and, unlike in previous losing efforts, he most definitely did not take this “L” well.
Here’s this writer’s account of what happened that odd night in Saudi Arabia, courtesy of FightHype.com”
“Post-decision, Joshua held up the Ring Magazine and WBA belts and tossed them out of the ring in protest. He then bolted, clearly pissed off, and was on his way back to the dressing room before he turned back around, re-entered the ring and asked for the mic. He would proceed to deliver the most cringe-worthy post-fight mic work since Mike Tyson’s ‘I broke my back…My back is broken…Spinal.’
‘Usyk, one hell of a f**king fighter, let’s give him a round of applause. That’s just emotion…Look, if you knew my story, you would understand my passion,’ Joshua told a somewhat befuddled crowd at the Jeddah Superdome in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. ‘I ain’t no f**king amateur boxer from five years old that was an elite prospect from a youth. I was going to jail…I got bail and started training my a** off, because if I got sentenced, I wouldn’t be able to fight…
‘The f**king passion we put into this sh*t, man. This guy, to beat me tonight, maybe I could have done better, but it shows the levels of hard work he must have put in, so please give him a round of applause as our heavyweight champion of the world. Woo! Motherf**ker!
‘I’m not a 12-round fighter. Look at me! I’m a new breed of heavyweights. All them heavyweights– Mike Tyson, Sonny Liston, Jack Dempsey. ‘Oh, you don’t throw combinations like Rocky Marciano.’ ‘Cause I ain’t f**king’ 14 stone, that’s why! I’m 18 stone and I’m heavy! It’s hard work! This guy here is a phenomenal talent.
‘…I was studying Ukraine and all the champions that have come from your amazing country. I ain’t never been there, but at the same time, what’s happening there is– I don’t know what’s happening, but it’s not nice at the end of the day,’ Joshua added.”
That strange moment was followed by the fighter breaking down in tears in the post-fight press conference when trying to talk about the loss.
The 33-year-old former 3-belt heavyweight champ will be returning to the ring this Saturday at O2 Arena, taking on American Jermaine Franklin and looking to get back into the win column for the first time since December of 2020, when he stopped Kubrat Pulev in nine rounds.
Not only is “AJ” bringing new trainer Derrick James with him, he also claims to have a new perspective on boxing life and a new dedication to his craft.
“The minute you give up is the minute your mental health wins,” Joshua recently told BBC Newsbeat.
“You just got to keep on going.
“I couldn’t stop. It’s a pleasure to be able to stop because of the problems you have in life,” he added.
“You don’t really have time to deal with your mental health at the time– you just have them quiet moments and outbursts where you just go crazy.
“It was bumpy, but I was hanging on and look where it’s led me now– to the O2 Arena in London competing again.”
Although confident in his ability to beat his upcoming opponent, Joshua has also acknowledged the “must-win” urgency of this bout. A loss will push him into retirement.
“I will retire if I lose,” Joshua recently told media. “I’m not here to battle people. If people want me to retire, I will retire.”
Fans will get to see this next chapter in the life of Anthony Joshua this Saturday.