Heavyweight Matty Harris has been buoyed by a message of support from Anthony Joshua as he sets out on the road to redemption this week.

Harris returns to the ring Friday night, on the Wasserman Boxing show at the Telford International Centre, following a shocking first career defeat last summer.

The 24-year-old Harris, from Leamington Spa, was stopped by Kostiantyn Dovbyshchenko in Edinburgh in July and has now teamed up with coach Peter Fury in a bid to get back into the heavyweight mix as soon as possible.

Harris, known as “Magic,” takes on Belgium’s Amine Boucetta over four rounds later this week and heads into his return having sparred Francis Ngannou, UFC champion Tom Aspinall and Hughie Fury, among others.

Messages of support have also come from a number of British heavyweights, including Dereck Chisora, Frazer Clarke and the man who faces Ngannou next week, Joshua. Harris recently commented on those and several other topics:


On messages from AJ and others: “A lot of people, including AJ, have reached out, exchanging some nice words, which has been nice.And, of course, it’s encouraging to hear these messages. I guess if they thought I was rubbish and couldn't box, then they may not bother – and so they reached out because it was a shock defeat. I am now putting the work in to right those wrongs.”

On sparring Ngannou, the former UFC star who has crossed over to boxing: "If you let him hit you, then he has heavy hands and he is an incredibly strong individual.But I was surprised what he did to Tyson Fury. I expect AJ to go straight through him on March 8."

On sparring Aspinall, the UFC interim heavyweight titleholder: ”He’s a decent boxer! And he could've got to a very decent level in boxing. He has really good feet, he's absolutely a good mover, and it was Peter who taught him how to box."

On what it’s like being trained by Peter Fury: "I knew it was going to be hard; it's my medicine!I have to go through this to become better. Peter has trained world champions before, and so I have plenty to learn with him. He is very old-school in terms of his mindset to the way we do things, and you can't help but appreciate it; there is no substitute for hard work. And it doesn't matter how I'm feeling, I just have to get in there and get the work done.”