The mission for Anthony Joshua heading into this weekend has always been less about reclaiming a prize as it is about restoring pride.
With that, came a proverbial shrug of the shoulders when the former two-time unified heavyweight titlist learned of the added stakes for his rematch with Oleksandr Usyk. Already on the line will be the WBA/IBF/WBO/IBO heavyweight titles. The Ring announced its recently vacated championship would also be up for grabs. So, what does it mean to Joshua, who through two title reigns has yet to fight for or win Ring’s crown?
“Not much. Don’t mean sh!t,” Joshua told BoxingScene.com and a small group of reporters during a recent Zoom conference call. “None of them do. It is what it is. They just take my f----in’ sanctioning fees. They’re just something that look good when I take them to schools and show kids, ‘Look at my belts.’
“I never want to go to the bottom because I’m the champion. I always want to be on cloud nine. That’s why I’m not interested in Ring Magazine or other titles because I don’t want to depend on it for my happiness.”
England’s Joshua (24-2, 22KOs) will be happy once his arm is raised in victory, provided he can avenge a prior defeat to Ukraine’s Usyk (19-0, 13KOs) this Saturday on DAZN from Jeddah Superdome in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Their highly anticipated heavyweight championship rematch takes place eleven months after Usyk outpointed Joshua in an upset win to become a two-division champ last September in East London.
The loss ended Joshua’s second unified title reign just two fights after regaining his titles in December 2019, outpointing Andy Ruiz six months after suffering a knockout defeat at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Despite twice turning over his slew of alphabet titles, the hulking Brit—who turns 33 in October—has never stopped carrying a championship mindset.
“I always say, I’m the f---in’ man. You got to believe that,” insisted Joshua, who is a +175 underdog according to Caesars Sportsbook. “You’re the man. You’re the lady. All that stuff is here today, gone tomorrow.
“I just never felt like these belts made me. You got to be the champ before you are the champ. I truly believe that. Believe you are the champ before you are the champ, keep your head held high.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox