How Does Anthony Joshua Deal With The Pressures Of Being A Champion?

A top star within the ranks of Matchroom Boxing, Anthony Joshua understands that there will always be a target on his back. The WBA, IBF, WBO, and IBO Heavyweight Champion also knows there will be doubters who question his every move. It is just another day in the life.

Speaking with Men’s Health, Joshua (23-1) discussed the highs and lows of being a champion. He went into detail regarding the criticism he has received, whether it be statements he has made in the past or the lone loss of his career.

“I think that it’s hard to ignore it. I’m not going to lie and say that I don’t pay attention to any of that, because it’s impossible not to see [the criticism],” Joshua stated, via Boxing Scene. “I started my social media on my own and, even though it has turned into a business page, I still handle a lot of it myself.

“I think that it’s fine to have doubters, as long as you don’t believe what they’re saying the whole time. You have to prove your doubters wrong. When they don’t believe, you should always believe. The doubters aren’t always bad, either. You just have to try to find something positive out of it. They might say, ‘You’re s–t, and you’re going to get knocked out because your hands are too low’ – and I would think, ‘That’s a good indication I’ve got to keep my left hand up.’ I use the doubters as a positive factor, not as a negative one.”

Joshua, a former Commonwealth and British Heavyweight Champion, was on a dominant run until losing to Andy Ruiz Jr. inside Madison Square Garden in June 2019. Considered one of the biggest upsets in boxing history, Joshua was knocked down multiple times before the referee called the fight off in the seventh. Joshua didn’t seem prepared as Ruiz was pouring shots onto him. Ruiz was a replacement opponent for Jarrell Miller.

In the rematch in December, Ruiz was the one not prepared, as he did not train properly for the contest. Joshua, however, looked leaner and determined. He would outpoint Ruiz throughout the bout, winning back his titles via unanimous decision. There were still doubters due to the conditioning of Ruiz, but the win helped reinstate his status as one of the top entities in the sport.

“I think it’s all about adapting,” Joshua went on to say. “Different circumstances require different preparation. It was the same war, but I had learned a lot from the first battle… For the first fight, I was planning on going in there and trading with him. But there’s an old boxing saying: ‘You don’t hook with a hooker!’ So, what did I do? I went in there and hooked with a hooker and the actual hooker came out on top.

“In the second fight, I went in there and he tried to box with a boxer. And I came out on top. I had to learn what my strengths were and what his weaknesses were, and then I just boxed to those. That’s your basic foundation: never play to someone else’s strengths. In anything you do, everyone has their own strengths. If you play to theirs rather than yours, they are always going to come off better than you in the long run.”

Joshua is looking to use his newfound confidence as he prepares for IBF mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev. The two are scheduled to fight sometime in December.

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