By News Team
8th December 2020
Anthony Joshua has told us that Saturday’s heavyweight championship fight against Kubrat Pulev will all be about mindset.
The WBA, IBF, WBO, and IBO heavyweight champion faces Pulev at Wembley Arena on Saturday night, and he acknowledges that the Bulgarian heavyweight’s experience will mean he’s in for a tough test.
AJ has also gone a full year without a fight but maintains that he’s used that time well to address his character and mindset.
“This is what I signed up for, and it’s been tough,” he said. “I’ve had to work on character building.
“In terms of the time I’ve had off, I’ve had to toughen myself up again and get used to taking punches to the head and body and getting my hands strong again, and just getting myself prepared for a tough fight on December 12.
“He’s experienced (Pulev). He’s 39 now. What I’ve learnt from facing experienced fighters such as Alexander Povetkin and Wladimir Klitschko is that they can still be lively and do a lot of damage. At that age, the last thing you lose as a heavyweight is your power. He’s got that power.
“I feel I’m mentally tough,” Joshua said. “I’ve had my adversities and I’ve come back. I work on a lot of things that make me mentally strong, so what has this guy seen that I haven’t worked on?
“It’ll be December 12 that he’ll try to exploit them so that’s what makes this fight interesting. He has seen something that I feel I have worked on from the start of my life to now, and especially from June 1st, 2019 when I lost, up until now.
“As I person I am continually working on my weaknesses, so it’ll be interesting to see what the final cracks are that I need to improve on or if I have put them together and I am as solid as a rock.”
“After I lost to (Andy) Ruiz Jr. people are now saying ‘we’ve identified a weakness in Anthony Joshua and we’re going to exploit it’. It gives my opponents a sense of confidence that my invincibility has gone.
“Before Ruiz (Jr.) I was the invisible man, but I took a loss and now people can see a chink in the armour, so I know he is going to be confident coming forward and he won’t be scared. That’s good, as I know I’m confident and know where I went wrong. He doesn’t know what I’ve been working on in the gym so he’s probably going to think I’m the same fighter. It’s hopefully going to lead to a good clash on December 12.”
Asked what the biggest assets are that Pulev possesses, AJ has no doubt it’s his experience and power that he’ll have to deal with this weekend.
“I’ve noticed from the analysis that he’s dropped a few guys with the jab,” he said. “He’s very balanced so if you attack him and you’re not balanced then you can fall into his range. I’ve got to make sure that my attacks are spot on because he’s very good at punching opponents who make mistakes.
“He’s well experienced as well and has been in there (the ring) with good fighters. He’s got two other things: good work rate, where he’s used to going 12 rounds, and the last thing is he’s got a really good body shot as well.”
Joshua says that this upcoming fight will come down to a battle of the minds, and that he’s fully prepared for a psychological battle.
“We’re both physically gifted and we’re both blessed to know how to fight, take punches and give punches, and all that technical stuff,” he said. “But the main thing that separates us is the mindset. (It will come down to) who has got the stronger mindset, game plan, who is willing to take more and keep on going.
“That’s why this fight is interesting. Pulev’s a single jabber but might be triple jabbing this time. He might try and steamroll me in the first round. This is a chance to be heavyweight champion of the world so for me, it’s another fight, but for him it’s a chance to be world champion so I’m sure he’s taking this fight seriously. I’m really looking forward to it.”
Further down the line, Joshua also hopes a unification bout with Tyson Fury can be organised sooner rather than later.
Asked to pick one boxer to face next, AJ told William Hill: “Tyson Fury. Due to the fact he has the WBC and Ring Magazine belts. I think it’s a great fight that will happen in the next few years.
“His Dad has said he’s confident that he could beat me and I’m confident that I can beat Tyson Fury. He says he has the boxing IQ of Einstein, so I’d like to put that to the test and see how well I do.”
AJ has also admitted that he and his camp have been using the Rocky IV soundtrack as inspiration in their camp for the upcoming fight, but that he’s yet to pick his walkout music for this weekend.
“We’ve listened to a lot of the Rocky IV soundtrack which has been great,” he said. “There’s been a lot of old school classic Afrobeats as well in sessions. Mainly the ‘Fela generation’ and some rhythm and flow stuff.
“I’m under pressure to pick the walkout music so I’m always open to exploring room walk music! So if anyone can help in that department then let us know!”