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Anthony Joshua Aims for Greatness

By Rob Hough

Anthony Joshua has heavyweight titles, a vast and growing fan base, looks the ladies like and serious money – a reported $18 million for his fight Saturday against Joseph Parker. And he says he needs to get a lot better. In preparing for that fight, which will be shown live on Showtime at 5 pm ET from Cardiff, Wales, the 28-year-old discussed his preparation both for Parker (24-0, 18 KOs) and determination to get better.

“I’m focusing on everything,” Joshua (20-0, 20 KOs) said recently on a conference call. “Some people seem to think that what you need is a good right hand and a good chin, like we might has well go to a club in England or America and find the biggest, ugliest guy we can and he’ll be the heavyweight champion.”

“What I need to do to become a great champion is just work on my all-around game. The fundamentals. We’re talking about balance, footwork and understanding the distance between being in range and out of range. Perfecting your jab. Use your jab 50 times before you throw your right hand. Let’s make sure your right hand is in the right position to defend a left hook in case you get countered.”

An analytical approach is required, as well, said the Englishman, who shared observations about his Parker, a native and resident of New Zealand.

“Looking at Joseph Parker, you’ve got to look at how he boxes on the front foot and on the back foot. When he’s on the front, he finds it difficult to land combinations. When he’s on the back foot, he’s performed better.”

Versatility is required, both in weight and fighting style, added the Watford, England native and resident, who weighed 254 in his last fight, against Carlos Takam.

“I’m looking to slim down for this fight, to (238, 239 pounds),” he said, noting that Parker has gone the 12-round distance in five fights. “This isn’t Weight Watchers; nobody should go into camp focused on weight, but you do have to focus on the type of fight and fighter you’re facing. But now, I’m fighting someone like Parker who’s a lot quicker and moves a lot more. I have to make sure I’m lighter on my feet so I’ve adjusted to the style of fighter I’m fighting. I haven’t adjusted my weight for any other reason than the type of fighter I’m going to be facing.”

And Parker brings the experience and knowledge he gained in an impressive amateur career, Joshua noted.

“I do believe Lomachenko, Rigondeaux, Andre Ward have all had great amateur careers which led them on to be phenomenal professionals and Joseph Parker’s had that. I have to give credit where credit is due,” he said. “I just think he has that amateur background behind him and he knows how to fight. He’s traveled the world so coming to England is nothing new to him. He’s got that in his locker, which has gotten him this far.”

Having come some long way himself, Joshua said he’s now more comfortable and confident in speaking his mind in the course of training.

This is the first time I’m manned up with my trainer and said, “This is what I think is working and this is what isn’t. Can we make some changes?”

What hasn’t changed: all the questions about a fight with Deontay Wilder, who’s widely considered to be the toughest match out there. That’s other people talking, though, Joshua insisted.

“I’m not the one hooting and hollering about what’s happening next,” he said. “I’m really focused on Parker because as you know, if I don’t get past Parker, it slows down the train and derails everything we’re trying to achieve.

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