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Anthony Joshua Interview Transcript


Chris DeBlasio
Good evening, good afternoon, and good morning to everyone joining us firom two countries across the world. I want to thank you for taking the time to be on. On today’s conference call, we have Eddie Hearn and Anthony Joshua. We’ll have Leon Margules and Charles Martin a little bit later. We want to kick off the exciting heavyweight fight that we’re going to present this Saturday. SHOWTIME BOXING INTERNATIONAL presents the IBF Heavyweight World Championship fight live on SHOWTIME at 5 p.m. ET/ 2 p.m. PT from The O2 Arena in London. As you all know, we will also offer an encore presentation of this telecast later that night on SHOWTIME EXTREME® at 8 p.m.

The SHOWTIME telecast will include highlights of the IBF Featherweight World Title Fight between defending champion Lee Selby and Philadelphia’s Eric Hunter, which will take place early on the undercard at The O2. Our presentation of the event will be hosted by Brian Custer with analysis from Boxing Hall of Fame Sportscaster, Al Bernstein, and Two Division World Champion Paul Malignaggi from our studios in New York. The live fight coverage will be provided by Sky Sports. I’d like to begin with a few words from the man who’s assembled a terrific schedule for live boxing events on SHOWTIME over the next several weeks. He is Executive Vice President and General Manager of SHOWTIME Sports, Stephen Espinoza.

Stephen Espinoza
Thanks, Chris. And thanks to everyone on the call for joining. Saturday begins our incredibly strong line up, really the strongest line up of any network this year. Seven live boxing telecasts, featuring at least nine world championship fights, soon to be more than that as we fill up the under cards, over a 12 week span. And among them, of course, we’re highlighting some of the most important fights in the most exciting and talent rich divisions. And case in point is Saturday’s heavyweight match-up, which, of course, is highlighting a division that has suddenly become very, very interesting. A new era of heavyweight boxing has really emerged. The landscape is changing fight-to-fight, sometimes punch-to-punch. We’ve got recently crowned champions and challengers, all looking to really establish themselves as the future of the division. And I can’t think of a better fight to kick off this strong slate that we’ve got this spring and summer than this title fight of undefeated Charles Martin, making his first title defense against the also undefeated rising star Anthony Joshua in what I’m sure will be a sold out O2 Arena. We’re also very proud to be hosting the U.S. TV debut of Anthony Joshua, so those of us here in the States can see what all the excitement over in the UK is all about. Between the two of them, they’ve got a combined record of 38-0-1 with 36 knockouts. That’s a 94 percent knockout ratio. So, of course, we are expecting a lot of excitement this Saturday night. With that, I’ll turn it back over to you, Chris.

Chris DeBlasio
I’d like to introduce from Matchroom Sport, Eddie Hearn. Eddie, you and your team have been busy selling out arenas across England this year, a couple of sellouts already. Thank you for taking the time to be with us and making time for the U.S. press. Maybe a few words and an introduction for team Joshua, please.


Eddie Hearn
Thank you, Chris. Yeah, we’ve already had some huge events this year, and the UK is absolutely thriving at the moment, but this event is on another level. Anthony Joshua has broken box office records, viewing figure records consistently since his début a couple of years ago at the same arena. On Saturday night, he looks to become the first British Heavyweight Olympic Gold Medalist to go on and win a world title. It’s a wonderful fight between two very talented, young, big punching heavyweights, and it’s the fastest selling event ever at the O2 Arena, selling 17,000 tickets in just 90 seconds. The anticipation here is on another level. You can’t walk down the street without someone asking if AJ’s going to do it. On Saturday night, as Stephen pointed out, the knockout ratio is second to none. Expect fireworks; expect anticipation, drama, absolutely everything in a wonderful O2 Arena. And, of course, our thanks always to our host, broadcaster in the UK, Sky Sports, but also to Stephen Espinoza and SHOWTIME. I’ve been telling Stephen Espinoza for a long time about Anthony Joshua, and I’m so pleased that the U.S. public will get a chance to see him in action on Saturday night, when I believe he will become the Heavyweight Champion of the World. I’m going to pass over to Anthony Joshua.

Anthony Joshua
Many thanks for you guys taking the time to join the call. Eddie mentioned some great figures and great achievements that we have accomplished from the time I turned professional, and also the fact that the excitement of the heavyweight division is back and it’s an honor to be involved in it, especially here in the UK. And sometimes in heavyweight boxing the UK’s been overlooked, but I think right now people are looking at us and starting to respect the division a lot more. Moving forward with the fight against Charles Martin, as you said, it’s a 96 percent –or 94 percent knockout ratio between us both, but the end of the game for both of us is, obviously, hit without getting hit, but someone will go and someone though has to be removed, and I’m very confident on Saturday night that won’t be me. And I think the rewards of that becoming IBF Heavyweight Champion of the World. And why I’m so content is that God willing I win this championship, I then want to go on to unify the division. So, that’s why I keep my head in the game and stay focused and just look at it as another task on my checklist.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5R0dpeB32WM

Question
It seems that this is coming a little bit quicker than maybe you or Eddie or anybody on your team anticipated, the opportunity to fight Martin. Can you address how soon this has come in your career compared to when maybe you thought it would arrive, the opportunity to fight for one of these titles?

Anthony Joshua
Yeah, I think we were looking at 12 months’ time. And at the same time it is about my development, because you’re only as good as your last fight. So, when the opportunity came, what I was doing, I was looking at various opponents, the majority of them American opponents as well, who are some in the top 10 and some who (fought) at a world level or contending at world level. And they’re very tough opponents as well, but moving forward April 9, I wanted to get a good contender and to show that my progression from the Dillian Whyte fight. I fought a fight that I didn’t need to, but I still swam the waters, and I came out on top. So, I wanted to show I could go in with, you know, good contenders and defeat them with ease. And when Charles Martin came around, as I said, and I’ll say it again, I took away the fact that he’s IBF Heavyweight Champion of the World. And when I look at Charles Martin as an individual it’s not that I see weaknesses, but I feel that I’m the better man, and they always say the better man will win on the night, and I feel confident of winning, and I feel the fact that the IBF Championship comes with it gives it that much more kudos and why there is a lot more attention around it. But, I’ll leave the attention and, you know, all the hype and the building of the fight that’s down to Eddie, the team, but when I look at the fight itself it’s no problem. I’ll take this fight with both hands, and that’s how I kind of managed to secure my confidence moving forward with this heavyweight championship fight.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PXrMlU5N3Yw

Question
Anthony, when you look at the landscape, the British boxing scene is thriving. You’ll have a heavyweight title if you win. Tyson Fury, no disrespect, is clearly the recognized champion in the weight class with two titles and the victory against Klitschko. And there’s other, big names in the heavyweight division that fight out of the UK. Would it be good for you to match up with some of these other guys over there, Fury and Haye in particular?

Anthony Joshua
It has to happen. It is a big deal, because I look at it like when you go back in history, Foreman fought Ali. Ali fought Frazier. Then you have Tyson fighting Holyfield. Holyfield and Lewis. And then, you’ve just got the UK heavyweight: so Haye, Price, Fury, myself. Every division has to mix it up. So, if moving forward I get the victory, it just adds a bit of fuel to that fire, and these fights are going to happen sooner than later. So, I can’t shy away from it. I’ve got to prepare myself. And how I look at Charles Martin is I train for Charles Martin, but I’ve got to train for 10 fights ahead of Charles Martin because it’s only going to get tougher, and that’s why I have to have the confidence. My mind says, ‘I can beat Charles Martin because I want to go to that level above as well.’

Question
Eddie, could you address that?

Eddie Hearn
Anthony Joshua against David Haye is probably the bigger of the two fights, but Joshua against Tyson Fury and a unification fight between two Brits, I mean, you know, it’s (huge).

Question
A fight between British boxers for the heavyweight championship has never happened, right?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gs0XVUKM5Ug

Eddie Hearn
No, no, no, no it hasn’t. And, you know, it might never happen again. So, absolutely huge. As Anthony said, 100 percent of our eyes are on Saturday night, but at the same time we know the rewards, and the rewards come through a huge fight. And Tyson Fury is a character that would take the Anthony Joshua fight at the drop of hat, and we feel exactly the same way.

Question
How nervous are you, Eddie, about Saturday given that you brought up Anthony from day one in the pros? And I know this is a little sooner than you expected. You know, the fighter will do his job. But is it difficult for you to sit there with the nerves watching what’s unfolding in the ring?

Eddie Hearn
Yeah, I’m nervous, but I’m so excited. I mean, this is what boxing is — this is what the sport is all about. You know, we’re rolling the dice, and we’re doing it quicker than many would do it, but we’re doing it because Anthony Joshua makes the ultimate call. The team — he will get his opinions from myself and the training team, who all feel he can beat Charles Martin, but the man who has the ultimate say is Anthony Joshua, and, luckily, he’s a very bright individual who believes he can beat Charles Martin. It doesn’t matter if it’s Saturday night or 12 months’ time, when you get the opportunity to fight for the World Heavyweight title in your backyard, you have to take it and especially when you’re a favorite going into the fight. I mean, the odds are ludicrous. You know, this is a close fight. This is a close fight where anything can happen, but we believe Anthony Joshua is a special talent. It’s certainly quicker than we expected, but look at the rainbow at the end. Anthony Joshua becomes the Heavyweight Champion of the World, in my opinion, becomes the biggest star in world boxing, and you will see when it happens. You might say, “Well, that’s a bit of an exaggeration.” Trust me, it’s not. This boy has got it all. But, we know how dangerous the fight is. We know how dangerous heavyweight boxing is. And the beauty of it is that these guys are fearless. They’ve not been around long enough to know about defeats, etc. You know, Charles Martin’s never been hit on the chin. Anthony Joshua has. And the Dillian Whyte fight will end up being a blessing for Anthony Joshua. So you’ve got two 6-foot-5 guys, one big, awkward southpaw with a huge backhand. Another guy with the fastest hands I’ve seen in the heavyweight division for a long time and a total disregard for what’s coming back at him. Actually so much so, I’ve never seen a man unload in front of another man like this since Mike Tyson. But, we got to be smart because this time there’s going to be something coming bacck

Question
For Stephen Espinoza: From a coaching programmer’s perspective, how exciting is it that you have a heavyweight division as vibrant as it is right now? How refreshing is it to be able to say to them, “Well, hey, we have a division that is exciting; we have these fights now.”

Stephen Espinoza
It’s really the icing on the cake, so to speak, of the current boxing market. There certainly is a certain mystique about the heavyweight division, particularly for the casual fan. No matter what is going on in any of the other divisions, heavyweight boxing holds just a special attraction. There’s a magnetism and excitement about the division and it’s been a relatively dormant division for much of the last decade. I don’t mean that in a derogatory way. It’s just we have one dominant champion or a set of brothers as dominant champions and each fight was really a foregone conclusion. What we’ve seen in the last eight months is essentially an entire reinvigoration and renewal of the heavyweight division. And to see young guys, like Anthony Joshua, a newcomer on the scene who has made the kind of splash and has the kind of promise that Anthony has is something that really if the division wasn’t already rejuvenated, it certainly would have taken notice of him. But, you throw Anthony in there and some other good, young heavyweight prospects such as Joseph Parker and others, there’s a lot of excitement from the up and coming ranks all the way through the contenders and champions. It’s really an exciting time, not just for that division but for many others that are being remade in sort of a new generation of talent.

Question
Do you see the winner of this fight as being a guy that can perhaps help carry the flag for the network?

Stephen Espinoza
We’d love that to be the case. You know, as Eddie mentioned, he and I have been talking about Anthony for several fights now, and we’re thrilled that we were able to get a deal done and host this TV début. And we’d like to be his TV home for the remainder of his career, and that’s for two reasons, one because he’s obviously a very skilled and entertaining fighter, but, two, there is a wealth of good fights that can be made. That’s really the recipe for a TV programmers dream and not just to have charismatic skilled fighters, but actually have a wealth of opponents. There are a number of them, here in the U.S., starting with Deontay Wilder or other UK fighters – Tyson or David Haye, as well as internationally. There’s really fertile ground in the heavyweight division right now.

Question
Anthony, leading up to this fight, one line you keep using is that everything about your career is about development. You said that kind of in reference to your development in the ring but also personal development as a human being. What do you expect to learn in this fight with Charles Martin both about yourself and as a fighter?

Anthony Joshua
Well, as about myself, dealing with pressures, right? It’s just how to deal with fighting for the Heavyweight Championship of the World. That’s a pressure in life that you could put on any-thing and there’s a certain amount of respect that you’ll get. So, there’s pressures of life that I’m going to deal with outside of the ring. And regarding the fight, I’m looking towards the fight, in my last 10, 12 weeks in training, it’s been a great camp. We’ve been sparring like 13 rounds, 14 rounds. It’s been — that mental toughness, you know, day after day. Pushing myself has been great. And then moving into the fight is when I’ve been a watching a lot of champions and some of the champions. One thing I’ve learned from them is just composure. That’s what I’m going to take into this fight. So, not only experience and then how to deal with things, but that’s outside of the ring. But, when I am in the ring and just deal with what I’ve got to face within the ring and just stay composed, I should show people that basically anything’s possible. You know, they can say what they want, but I’m an underdog. I’m a challenger that can come in and annihilate a champion. Kind of like when Tyson fought Douglas. Just don’t give Charles Martin a chance and just outclass him, and that’s what I want to show and display on Saturday to be honest with you.

Question
Anthony, can you talk about the fact that you’re coming in–even though you got knockouts in all of your fights, you only have, I believe, a total of 32 pro rounds, and you’re fighting for world titles. Can you talk about the experience factor in this fight and how you want to overcome it? Obviously, everybody knows your Olympic and amateur record, but tell us about the experience factor as a pro fighting for a title this soon?

Anthony Joshua
I think that when the red carpet’s been laid out for you, you can only walk down it with the amount of experience that I have. I haven’t got, you know, as you said, like 200 rounds under my belt and 50 fights. I’m just the man I am. And with the cards I’ve got, I’m going to make the most of it. And that’s how I have to attack this fight. It would have been great to have 50 fights and x amount of rounds, but I feel great with having 32 rounds and 15 fights as well. So, that’s why I think it’s all a mindset. It’s how one person looks at it and how another does. And I’m confident that my rounds won’t–there won’t be another 12 rounds added onto this fight. It’s still going to stay in limited numbers, and that’s not being cocky. It’s just more of a confidence thing. It’s that the way we train in the gym, you know — and they say the fight’s a long time before the fight. And the way we train the gym that’s why I’m so confident moving forward, because I’m hungry. I’m determined. And I just want to go in there and just put on a great show. And I know they’ll crumble. I just know I’m confident in making people crumble after a few rounds.

Question
You’ve fought a number of experienced fighters before. Do you consider Charles Martin to be your toughest opponent as a pro?

Anthony Joshua
No, I don’t. Not really, no. No, not yet. Not yet. He’s not my toughest opponent yet. But, then it might be a different story come April 9. Right now looking at Charles, he’s a very (good) counter puncher. He’s laid back. He doesn’t work the full round. So, it should be a nice controlled fight. So, I don’t think it’ll be like the Dillian Whyte fight. That was a tough fight. We work. We’re both hungry. The guy was very strong to the head. That was a tough fight for sure. So, I don’t think Charles will impose those kind of threats that Dillian did.

Question
Do you want to make a prediction for the fight?

Anthony Joshua
Let me think. Six rounds, maybe six rounds.

Question
You and Eddie have both referenced the fight against Dillian Whyte. And the second round, what you think you’ve learned from that and how it can help you?

Anthony Joshua
I was thinking that he threw a haymaker of a left hook, and it kind of — it just dazzles you a little bit. And then, you just basically hold yourself together, and it just shows composure. Stay, as I said, composed, man. Just stay composed. And that’s what I’m saying over the time when I’ve been watching many fighters. It happens. It’s boxing. It does happen, but it’s how you deal with it, which is important. And I always say that it happened to me in round two. It happened to Dillian in round seven. One dealt with it better than the other, and I came out victorious. And that’s just how I dealt with it really.

Chris DeBlasio
Before we move on to Prince Charles Martin, a few words from Stephen Espinoza. Stephen?

Stephen Espinoza
Thanks, Chris. We were fortunate enough to host Charles Martin when he won the title a few short months ago. I know Charles and his team were disappointed, not withstanding the win, because they didn’t get a chance to show what Charles Martin is all about. I’ve seen him in the gym. I know him as a fighter. I know his team. He’s an exciting fighter, an aggressive all-action fighter. And I’m sure that he is intent on showing what he didn’t get the opportunity to show the first time out. So, without further ado, Chris, I’ll turn it over to you to introduce the IBF Heavyweight Champion Charles Martin.


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