ANTHONY JOSHUA conjured up memories of Mike Tyson by revealing he once boxed and won with a broken back.
Following Tyson’s 2003 victory over Clifford Etienne, he famously told Showtime’s Jim Gray that he had fought with a serious injury.
“I broke my back,” Iron Mike declared. “My back is broken.” Then, when bewildered Gray pressed Iron Mike on the suggestion, he memorably responded: “Spinal!”
Now WBA and IBF heavyweight champion Joshua says he too has gone into a fight with a broken back – when he beat Michael Sprott in November 2014.
Joshua has had to contend with a late change of opponent for October 28 in Cardiff following the withdrawal of Kubrat Pulev, who has sustained a pectoral injury during training camp.
But the London 2012 Olympic champion says it would take something pretty serious to keep him from fighting and that not even a broken back stopped him three years ago.
“If you knew the injuries I have faced in camp,” he said. “I had glandular fever against Dominic Breazeale, my shoulder in this camp… Fighters go through a a lot.
“I fought Michael Sprott with a fractured back, just crack on. Rob McCracken doesn’t like it. He says, ‘You have to listen to me, Josh, if I ever have to pull you out of a fight…’
“But you build up so much to this one moment and because of a niggle you’re going to let it go. But when you’re in there the adrenaline takes over anyway. I don’t think, touch wood, unless it was serious, serious, I don’t think I’d stop.”
Joshua also revealed that a visit to a massage parlour just a fortnight before April’s memorable Wembley victory over Wladimir Klitschko almost resulted in the fight getting called off.
He said: “Two weeks before the Klitschko fight I went for a Thai massage and she stretched me.
“She pulled my arm down my leg and it cramped my back. I swear, I was walking doubled over.
“That was two weeks before. But we crack on. Now if I get a massage I don’t let them stretch me!”
Frenchman Carlos Takam, who was next in line with the IBF, has stepped in to replace Pulev but Joshua says it was a more familiar face he wanted to face instead of the Bulgarian No.1 contender.
He said: “When I heard the news the first person I asked to fight in Cardiff was Dillian Whyte.
“The two people who brought the best out of me entertainment-wise were Dillian and Klitschko. So they’re the two people.
“Klitschko I was buzzing for a rematch because of the type of fight it was, it was great. Dillian, the same reason.
“It was just a buzz, everyone benefits, everyone has a good time. Let’s look back at certain careers, if you can pick memorable nights Dillian would be one and Klitschko would be one.
“Out of my career there should be four or five memorable nights and we’ve already ticked off two.”
Instead Whyte faces Robert Helenius on the undercard at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium and Eddie Hearn explained why a rematch with Joshua was far from viable.
Hearn said: “When I phoned him on Monday after the Pulev news, he said to me, ‘What about Dillian?’
“But because Pulev was the mandatory challenger, when he pulled out you have to just go down the IBF rankings.
“I said the only way we can fight Dillian is if Takam says no, Christian Hammer says no and Jarrell Miller says no, Dillian is next after them so you have to wait and see but Takam took it.”
Whyte’s fight against Helenius is for the WBC silver strap and Hearn hopes victory for the south Londoner will push him closer to a fight with champion Deontay Wilder.
An epic unification between Joshua and Wilder has been mooted for the summer but Hearn suggested the two teams are some way off any sort of agreement.
Hearn added: “The deal in Wilder’s head is a 50/50 split between Deontay Wilder and Anthony Joshua – but over my dead body is that ever happening.
“He needs to fight someone real, that’s why I want him to fight Dillian Whyte, February 3 at the O2.”