Anthony Joshua has what he craved after defeating Wladimir Klitschko in the most dramatic of heavyweight fights, in which the young pretender became the nemesis of the old king and claimed the gilded throne. His aim now is to “hold all the belts for 10 years like Klitschko did” and create a legacy.
“I want to maintain what we’ve been building on; it would be silly to let it go,” Joshua said yesterday, insisting that his watchwords would remain hunger and humility, and that the 11 rounds with the Ukrainian, in his 69th contest, had given him the equivalent of 100 rounds of experience.
So, Sunday, after speaking to his son JJ and mother Yeta, the 27-year-old who had just earned £15 million and added two more major heavyweight belts to his collection went out and bought a notebook and pencil. “I want to get stronger. As I’m thinking about the fight and it’s still fresh, I’m actually taking down notes of little things of how I can improve. I want to tell Rob McCracken, my trainer: ‘What do you think about working on this when I get back to the gym?’ I’m really thinking about my fight and how I can improve.”
Sporting a swollen, blackened left eye, and shadow-boxing his explanations of the fight as he relived the dramatic night that culminated in an 11th-round stoppage, Joshua said: “It was really good, I had fun. I had 44 rounds of boxing as a professional before that fight. Now I feel like I’ve had 144 rounds. I took rounds upon rounds of experience, and I can move forward now on to bigger and better things.
“I don’t just like to win but I like to win in fashion, because it adds a lot of stock to my value. We definitely ticked the entertainment box. If you were to ask me years ago, ‘Listen son, what do you want to do?’ I’d say, ‘I want to be a fighter, I want to fight one of the legends of the sport, in the biggest stadium, in the latest rounds and I’ll knock him out after being in a war’. That is what happened.”
While Joshua got his wish, retaining the International Boxing Federation belt and claiming the World Boxing Association crown, his stock rose overnight, making him a global star of the sport. Joshua can now have the pick of opponents, and his promoter Eddie Hearn told The Daily Telegraph: “We will not allow the sanctioning bodies, the belts, or boxing politics to get in the way of AJ’s career”. He said that the new star of the division could draw any opponent in any global market. That will be the promotional challenge for the team around the British heavyweight, given the success of the event and the 90,000 sell-out crowd at Wembley.
Joshua said after his defeat of the 41-year-old Klitschko – who has already said that he will fight on only in a rematch – that his victory did not match the high of winning Olympic gold at London 2012.
The public demand will grow for Joshua to face Tyson Fury, when he returns to the sport. “That’s why I mentioned Tyson Fury, because the British public would want to see us fight,” Joshua said. “It’s not as if I’m drawing attention to someone random. I’ve heard and seen people talking and it seems like it’s heading in that direction. I like to entertain and that’s a fight that’ll bring entertainment to the sport again.”
Joshua revealed that in the heat of battle with Klitschko he found himself talking to him. “Yeah I told him I was going to bring it and it was time to fight,” he said. “Me and Wladimir Klitschko didn’t trash talk, with a bit of trash talk it might be better with a different opponent, we can bring a different audience. My worry before this was, would it live up to the expectations? I hope it did. I enjoyed it. I didn’t feel the pressure. I think there must be someone I can dance with again that can get bigger than that.”
“I can do what Klitschko did, retain the title for 10 years. That’s why I said before for me that it wasn’t a defining fight, it’s part of my journey.”
Hearn knows that in Joshua, they now hold all the promotional aces. “We go wherever there is the most money,” he said. “Anthony wouldn’t mind going to Germany, something different, to face Klitschko if there is a second fight. He would have no problem going anywhere. The States, China, the Middle East, the Principality Stadium. We wouldn’t have any problem selling it.”
“Anthony will have May, June off, so he is not going to be ready until October. I want him to box in April-May and then go again in October-November every year as regular fixtures.”
The fighter is also a father, who lives at weekends with his mother in an ex-council flat in Golders Green when not training in Sheffield, and he spoke to Yeta and JJ by FaceTime in his dressing room after the fight.
“I was getting my drug test at the time after the fight. My son JJ was with my mum while the fight was going on. I was speaking to my son who is 18 months and I could see he was looking at my eye and he went ‘wow’.”
Does Yeta spoil her grandson, Joshua was asked. “Yes, but I spoil him too. Though I’m more disciplined. If he falls, I’d rather him get up by himself. I spoil him but I don’t mind him talking because I want him to learn to get up by himself.”
As Joshua did on Saturday night. To become a new great British sporting hero.