Anthony Joshua insists he does NOT struggle against southpaw rivals

Anthony Joshua tells his critics: ‘Keep putting pressure on me… I’ll keep getting better!’ as he fights back at claims he struggles against southpaw rivals ahead of his Saudi bout with unorthodox Otto Wallin

Anthony Joshua is on a quest to reclaim his throne at the top of the heavyweight division. 

Fuelled by the string of recent setbacks, AJ is embracing the pressure he is under and looking to make it three wins on the trot this weekend. 

He claims boxing is his ‘calling’. He believes he was given such talent to help ‘open up new doors’. He’s now got a huge fight in Saudi Arabia.

Speaking ahead of his mouthwatering £75million bout with Otto Wallin on Saturday, Joshua said: ‘At 18, I changed my mindset. I wanted to do something different with my life and I found boxing. So, I was channelling everything that was inside me into boxing. 

‘I was just put in that position to bring people towards boxing. Maybe that was my calling. To bring more eyes to the sport of boxing. Look at us now, we are here in Saudi. 

British boxing’s golden boy Anthony Joshua tells Mail Sport he cares about his legacy and embraces the pressure he is under

 Joshua is on a quest to reclaim his throne at the top of the heavyweight division and is looking for third win in a row

Joshua faces Otto Wallin of Sweden in a huge fight on the ‘Day of Reckoning’ card in Saudi Arabia on Saturday

‘It’s opening up so many amazing opportunities for people. So yeah, with my boxing and reigning as heavyweight world champion, I brought a lot of eyes to the sport. But, it didn’t just happen yesterday. It’s been in the works for a long time so that’s my calling, to open up new doors and bring more people to the sport.’

While the demand to triumph against Otto Wallin is high, Joshua retains his status as the golden boy of British boxing. His meteoric rise from humble beginnings to world champion status captivated boxing fans around the world. From a young age he was admired for his raw power and charismatic demeanour. 

AJ’s commitment to boxing extends beyond the ring. He’s fostered boxing’s growth through advocacy, mentorship, and community engagement, shaping the sport’s future and embodying the spirit of a sporting icon. 

However, with this status comes immense pressure. Each bout carries not only personal aspirations but also the hopes of a nation. The boxing world watches closely, magnifying the intensity of every move in the ring. 

‘Heavy is the head that wears the crown. Heavy is the head that wants the crown and I want it. This is my calling. This is something I have dedicated my life to since I was 18 years old.

‘I need the pressure. This position I am in is not a joke. It is serious. I understand what I am here and what I am doing. I understand the pressure that comes with it. 

‘I want to keep on chasing my goals and the goals of people within the sport. It’s just my way of showing that I am honouring them. So, keep on putting pressure on me and I will keep on making sure I get better.’

Joshua has returned to winning ways by beating Jermaine Franklin and Robert Helenius after losing his WBA, WBO and IBF heavyweight belts to Ukrainian superstar Oleksandr Usyk. 

Joshua lost his WBA, WBO and IBF heavyweight belts to Oleksandr Usyk before suffering a second successive defeat to him

AJ is back on a winning streak after the Usyk fights, having successfully won his last two bouts

The successive defeats to Usyk exposed physical and psychological vulnerabilities in the once-undefeated champion, reshaping his narrative and setting him off on a new path. 

Speaking about the Usyk bouts in a recent interview, AJ said he felt people were underestimating his ability. When asked to clarify what he meant, Joshua said: ‘Normally people see in you what you can never see in yourself. 

‘Maybe they aren’t doubting how good I am, maybe they are just wanting more. It’s fine, I say it’s actually a good thing but people expect more, demand you give more and believe you me, I am at that stage where I want to give more.

‘My team know I push hard, but nothing is done over night. It takes time. To get to the next level, it will take time but it is something I am working hard on. Even me speaking about it now, saying it’s something I am working towards just proves I mean it. I am a do-er so I am going to do it.’

However, Joshua has admitted he finds it frustrating when people say he struggles with southpaws – boxers who lead with right hand and right foot in their stance. He believes Usyk was the better boxer on both occasions but insists it wasn’t down to his stance. 

He claims he’s proved himself on that front by beating Charles Martin to win his first world title and Roberto Cammarelle to win Olympic gold. 

Speaking about the narrative around him and southpaws, AJ added: ‘It’s journalism. It creates content, it creates conversation. I’m not going to battle that narrative. It takes too much to do. 

Joshua has beaten Jermaine Franklin (left) and Robert Helenius in his last two fights. Wallin is up next on Saturday night

‘At the end of the day, no one is here forever. Many great fighters have come before me. I am just happy within myself and what I am doing. I’m not trying to prove myself on that front.

‘I got beaten by one of the best southpaws in the world. Could I have done better, 100 per cent. Will I do better if I have another chance? Yes. But, I just got beaten by a better fighter than me on the night. 

‘It’s not that I struggle with southpaws. I struggled with the opponent on the night. Otto Wallin is a completely different opponent. Let’s just see how we get on this Saturday night.

‘It’s like saying people who have five losses on their record against orthodox fighters struggle against orthodox fighters. It’s not that they struggle against orthodox fighters, it’s just that the people they are fighting at the time are better than them. It’s a narrative but I just believe Usyk was better than me on the night.’

Joshua is committed to returning to the top of the heavyweight division and insists he is focused on the task at hand after previously shifting his priorities to life outside of the ring. 

AJ recently admitted he had undergone a shift in priorities, focusing more on his family and his life outside of the sport. However, he insists he’s back in the right frame of mind and committed to boxing again. 

‘When you’re an athlete, when you first start off, everything is about your sport. Everything is about your sport and you are willing to do anything,’ he said.

‘Then as you get older, you have a family and so on. So, a lot can happen meaning your life becomes your priority and sport becomes second. It’s a natural process. But, [to be successful] you always have to keep your sport first. 

‘It has to be your job, your work, your passion, your calling in life. You have to keep that as your prime focus. Your sport has to be first and your life has to be second. Now, to do this for a long period of time is challenging. It’s easier said than done. 

Wallin dealt major damage to Tyson Fury in a 2019 unanimous decision loss, his only defeat 

‘There sometimes when you just don’t feel like doing it. You look back and you think “ah I’ve done it for such a long time, maybe I need a break”. But, you have to keep doing it.

‘You have to have the same passion as you did when you were a youngster, when this sport meant everything to you. When it meant the world to you. That’s how I still see it now.’

Joshua’s legacy is paramount to him and it’s helped redirect his focus back to the sport. He’s driven by a desire to inspire and he strives to leave a lasting imprint.

When asked what meant more to him, entertainment or legacy, the British heavyweight said: ‘Legacy. Legacy means more to me.

‘When entertainment wasn’t important, I always understood to capture the attention from an entertainment point of view. I always had my eyes peeled and did things outside of the sport. So, I’ve always had the entertainment factor but not in way where I am doing crazy things. 

‘So, I think I have that side to me but I’ve also kept my integrity where it’s like I actually a fighter away from everything else. Through and through I am a fighter.

‘Yeah for me, being a fighter and chasing some sort of legacy, chasing what history means in boxing, what greatness means to the fighting community. That’s what I am chasing.’ 

However, that’s not the case with all heavyweight boxers. Tyson Fury seemingly disregards the traditional pursuit of legacy. He previously told Mail Sport he had no interest in unifying the division – even though he is now facing Usyk in February. 

When asked whether he finds it frustrating the Fury shows very little interest in creating legacy fights, AJ said: ‘Yeah. It’s not so much frustration because I understand that people can change their views at certain times and certain points in their lives. 

‘So, maybe at that time in his life he is going through something where he feels that way. Then, at another point, before a fight it could mean everything to him. So, who knows what people are going through. 

‘But, everyone is subject to change. At that time maybe he feels he’s bigger and better than that. It’s not a bad thing but he’s like I’m above this, I am going to win it anyway. 

‘As someone who is a high achiever, he’s like this is nothing to me. So, that’s probably how I would interpret his comments. He just sees himself as a high achiever above this.’

Nevertheless, AJ will be focusing on the job at hand this weekend when he takes on Wallin as part of the stacked card in Saudi Arabia. 

‘It will be really good. It will be entertaining, tough, gruelling, challenging. I will rise to the occasion. My goal is to have my hand risen at the end as well. I will rise to the challenge and that will lead me to having my hand risen at the end.’

‘Day of Reckoning’, Saturday 23rd December, as part of Riyadh Season will be available live on DAZN and TNT Sports Box Office. For info on how to watch visit

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