ANTHONY JOSHUA rumbled back into action last weekend, dispatching humble American Jason Gavern inside three rounds. Speaking in the changing room after his bout at the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle, the Olympic super-heavyweight was relaxed about how quickly he’s finished his professional contests so far. “You train to do the rounds but it shows that training’s paying off,” he said. “No overtime in boxing, if you can knock them out in the first 10 seconds you can do that right the way through your career, that would be amazing wouldn’t it? That’s a phenomenal record to have but I’m not really fussed if we go one, two, three or we go 10, 11, 12.
“It doesn’t bother me. It’s all about winning. Whether it’s by knockout or points, it’s just all about winning. Winning’s everything, especially in boxing.”
His main imperative, after time out with a stress fracture in his back, is to keep boxing regularly. “I’m going to have Monday off then get back to work. Obviously why Matchroom is so unique they’ve got multiple shows throughout the year, we’ve got another one on May 9, it would be an honour to be on that as well. I’ve come out of there with no cuts and no bruises, the back’s held up fine. I’d be good to go if I get the opportunity to fight on May 9,” he said.
He will definitely fight at the O2 on May 30 and he doesn’t expect a tame showing to come from Kevin Johnson. “It would have been good to have him for this fight [on April 4] but he believes he can beat me. He’s not there to run away,” Joshua insisted. “Kevin Johnson has that amateur style, jab, defend, jab, jab, stands up straight or you saw what he did against [Dereck] Chisora, fight him on the inside. I’ve been working on that. So either way it might be explosive. It might be really good. He’s game, he’s ready to fight and when two people clash, it’s going to be explosive.
“Kevin Johnson, I think that will be a great night. As I said, he’s a boxer and he’s there to be hit. His body’s really open to get hit, his head is a very good, moving target as he backs off. [Aim] up there, drive to the body. [It’ll be] really good, I’m looking forward to that fight.”
After Johnson at the end of May he hopes to have four or five more bouts before the end of the year, aiming for a meaningful title, ideally the British, in September. “That would be a nice thing to do and then European, Commonwealth, start working my way up there. As long as I’m ready. There’s not much point in taking fights that I’m not ready for. As long as I’m ready, there’s good fights, good opponents [who are] going to give me problems, I’m going to give then problems. We’ll be in for a few good nights in future,” he promised. As for the opposition for the British title he continued, “It depends if Tyson Fury vacates, we’ll have to wait and see what he’s doing because he’s the current British champion. So until he makes the decision what he’s doing, I can’t give you another prediction on who it might be.”
There is only so much you can read into the straightforward victory over Jason Gavern but Joshua believes he’s heading in the right direction. “He was in there with Deontay Wilder before he fought for the WBC belt, Jason Gavern retired on his stool in the fifth round. Deontay Wilder, great fighter, proven himself, he didn’t even look phenomenal himself, not for the fact that he’s not a phenomenal fighter himself but for the fact Jason Gavern has 50 fights and is very awkward. So [for me] to go in there and hit him with a few shots, not knock him out but chop him down and make him quit in the ring, doesn’t speak volumes but says the power’s there and the accuracy was coming and I think moving forward it’s mainly that my back’s good, I made easy work of Jason Gavern,” Anthony said. “I’m not 100 percent, that’ll be near the day I’m at my peak. I felt good though. I felt loose. I’m not going to beat myself up about it. Normally I do that. Looking at it, I did alright, I handled business, I got him out of there. I made light work of it, three rounds and I can put it behind me and I can’t dwell on it. I would have loved to have gone out there and peppered him, left, right, centre and worked him on the inside but he’s an awkward customer and that’s what these fighters are there to do – there to be awkward. It’s not just about beating them, or it’s more to me how I beat them. So I look at it and think how can I improve and it gives me something to work on. If it was easy I think everyone would be boxing.
“Gavern for instance as he ducks, sometimes you don’t want to over-commit because all it takes is for him to wing it over the top. So I tried to be balanced and you’re there and you can follow it up that way. That’s kind of the shot that took him out, is the follow up from the right hand. That’s what I’m learning.”
His promoter Eddie Hearn added, “You’re always going to be criticized for every opponent at this stage… We’ve just got to do things the right way. All those fights everybody wants to see are going to happen. It’s inevitable. It’s just a case of when. Is it three months, is it six months, is it 12 months? Maybe people just have to wait a couple of months longer than they’d like to. Tough.
“As long as we do it right, whatever happens when we go in for those crunch fights, we know we’ve done everything right, we’ve done everything that we can.”
Or as Joshua put it more simply, “Trust me I’m coming.”
There has been a weight of expectation on him since winning his the Olympic super-heavyweight gold medal before turning professional. Joshua tried not to dwell on his amateur accomplishments. “People talk about the amateurs, the Worlds, the Olympics, it’s irrelevant. It’s a different game. All that did was give me a little bit of pedigree. I was a pup back then, now I’m growing into a man. I’ve got to step up. This is the pro game now, I pay rent, people are hungry. People train like professionals, live like professionals, they’ve got kids to feed. So I’ve got to step my game up as well. That’s why I don’t really look into the amateur stuff too much. It’s quite irrelevant to me,” he said.
“For me to fulfill everyone’s wishes I’d fight Klitschko on May 9 – that’s why it’s a bit irrelevant. I’ve just got to build and do it right. I don’t want that person that everyone goes, ‘Told you he’s s***, told you he wasn’t ready.’ I want to be that geezer they say, ‘You know what, he did it right, he did it his way, he followed his path and you know what I’m happy Great Britain have got a good champion.’ Rather than ‘I told you he’s s***. He’s just another has been from Great Britain, we ain’t never going to have a good heavyweight again like Lennox.’ So that’s why I’m just trying to get it right because this is my time, this is my era.
“Things like keeping on learning, going out to spar with Klitschko, it’s priceless experience,” he continued, “this is what I’m gathering up, mentally, physically, learning loads of different things. It will slowly come together once again and I’ll catapult to that next level. And how good would it be for you guys if I was heavyweight champion of the world? We’d have something to talk about then.”
Photos: Lawrence Lustig