Joshua believes everything will come together under trainer James

Anthony Joshua was hoping to fight Dillian Whyte to see what almost six months of work with trainer Derrick James has done for him.

But with Whyte’s adverse VADA test, a new opponent is set to come in for Joshua as he tapers his second camp with the in-demand Texas trainer. Joshua was training in Dallas with James for his bout with Jermaine Franklin earlier in the year and for Whyte his camp started in Texas before moving to Las Vegas as James prepared Errol Spence for the Terence Crawford superfight. For the last fortnight, Joshua has been working in London. 

“I believe everything will come together, fundamentally speaking,” Joshua said. “I am very confident in my jab and defence and going 12 rounds. I was never confident in going 12 rounds before, my defence was too leaky.”

But Joshua is not always held to the same standard as others. The 2012 Olympic gold medal winner failed to dazzle against Franklin but at the same time, banked 12 rounds and experienced his first camp with James.

“I remember when Tyson Fury went 12 rounds with Otto Wallin and everyone said it was brilliant for him to get 12 rounds under his belt,” Joshua explained. “I went 12 rounds with Jermaine Franklin and everyone said I am washed up.”

The Deontay Wilder fight could happen early in 2024, possibly in Saudi Arabia, but Whyte was supposed to act as a gauge for Joshua. Best case scenario is whoever Joshua faces on Saturday will show his improvements under James, worst case scenario it will show what he has got left. Because AJ knows he has acquired a mileage, even though he did not have a long amateur career and he’s not been active since winning the championship for the first time against Charles Martin. 

Some question whether Joshua has the same desire he had when he first fought Whyte when, in the midst of a shootout, a bloodthirsty Joshua stuck his tongue out at the buzz of fighting in the trenches. Has he still got that in him?

“If Dillian is good enough he can drag out that old dog in me,” Joshua claimed, before Whyte’s test results came back. “I never thought I was good enough, that’s why I had to fight like that. I was swinging widely like I was a 5ft slugger. But I am 6ft 6in and should be jabbing and beating fighters like a slick boxer, pressuring in a calculated way. How did the likes of [Roberto] Duran do 15 rounds and leave without a mark on their face? Because they were so skilled. I am trying to improve my skill element because I was getting in wild hooking and right-hand fights like [Wladimir] Klitschko.

“I was thinking, ‘Fucking hell, how many of these fights have I got left in me?’

“I was only 16-19 fights in and I was going to war with the whole division and getting spanked all over the gaff, I had to fight. I had to get smarter because I didn’t have an extensive amateur pedigree.

“I was a kid who came up from nowhere, for Great Britain, and was going to war with all these guys.
If I had kept on taking that approach I would not be here now, I would not have had anything left in me.”