ANTHONY JOSHUA and Dominic Breazeale have only come face-to-face once so far in the build up to their June 25 IBF heavyweight title clash in London. They have no shared history, the two didn’t cross paths at the 2012 Olympics, when Joshua won gold and Breazeale was promptly eliminated from the competition, but there was a surprising degree of hostility between the two when they officially announced their fight.
They only slowly separated after going head-to-head for the first time to pose for photos after what Breazeale referred to as “elbow jostling” or as Joshua termed it, “handbag wars”.
“I’m just tired,” Joshua explained. “I’m a respectful person, I shook his hand and I went over to him and I just feel that I’m not here to promote a fight. I’m here to fight. But this is the obligation. I’m not so much of a character within the boxing world and I just thought when we go head-to-head and stuff and then it’s time to walk off and you’re still there looking at me, I’m like is this guy being serious? Is there an issue? So I just wanted to address what the issue was. If we’re here to fight then we shake hands, we go away, train and we come together. If you’ve got a personal issue with me make it known. So I just wanted to address the situation with him.”
He continued, “I said what’s your problem. He said we’re just here to fight and this. So I said don’t make a big deal out of it. If you’re going to beat me, you’ll beat me. And if I’m going to beat you I’ll beat you. So don’t stress about it. If this is your destiny, it’ll be written June 25. Don’t be here breathing heavy and staring me down and stuff. It’s not worth your time.”
It goes without saying that posing for pictures on a lawn in Twickenham is one thing, fighting Joshua at the O2 Arena is quite another matter. “He shouldn’t really get into that character because when you’re in there it’s a different story, I think. When you’re in the fight it’s different. So just stay chilled out, it’s not worth wasting energy because when you’re fighting, whatever you plan to do and however you feel it always changes when you step in the ring,” Anthony warned.
Joshua though wasn’t quite sure what to make of Breazeale’s bluster. “I don’t know. I don’t know with the Americans no more,” he laughed. “I don’t know… I believed Kevin Johnson more than anyone! But I don’t know anymore.”
He is of course confident that Dominic won’t last the distance with him. “None of them will. Unless we’re talking about the crème de la crème I don’t think they will, no. I’m training hard and I don’t come out of the gym,” Joshua said with quiet authority. “I don’t think they’ll go the distance because of that. You know you build the natural stamina and natural strength, the natural boxing instinct. The more you fight, the better that becomes. So the plan is to stay active.”
When he stared down Breazeale, Joshua solemnly contemplated how he would knock his first challenger out. “Even when I’m looking at him, I’m calculating what shot I’m going to knock him out with. 100 percent. Slip with a left hook. That’s how I am. I’m actually picturing boxing him when I’m doing the eye-to-eye, thinking, ‘What shot will he throw?’ He’s a big guy. He’s going to throw jabs and then you have to keep your head moving and counter-punching,” Anthony noted.
“I don’t want to look for it. But it’s a very lovely shot when someone throws a jab – because they’re tall, so people who throw jabs are very straight on – they throw a jab, you throw one or you can come over there with a right or you can slip with a left hook. I think what will happen, he might get counter-punched.”
Joshua hopes to get to him “in the early stages and just keep it in routine. Hopefully…”