Anthony Joshua reveals proposed fight with Deontay Wilder is a distraction ahead of Dillian Whyte rematch

Anthony Joshua is still refusing to look too far ahead as he begins his preparations to face old rival and foe Dillian Whyte on August 12th, which will be hosted at the O2 Arena in London. 

At face value, Joshua will need to improve his performance against Whyte compared to his showing on April 1st, when he marked his return after back-to-back defeats against Oleksandr Usyk in 2021-22, respectively. Joshua faced Jermaine Franklin in a performance which too many flattered to deceive. AJ spoke to the Boxing News Podcast at the opening bell, gave a blunt assessment of his showing against Franklin and said he was going through a lot (of stuff at the time of the April 1st fight). 

“It was shit, but I’d been through so much, and I was still going through so much in that Franklin fight,” he admitted.

“I knew it wasn’t as good as it could be, not because of any reason. It’s just that I was going through a lot, and I think I’ve cleared all of that off my conscience.”

Joshua linked up with renowned trainer Derrick James prior to the contest with Franklin. Joshua suggested that all that mattered for himself against Joshua was to secure victory and not sustain too much damage ultimately. Joshua also claimed that his preparations to face Franklin were far from ideal and suggested that his sparring was not up to the level and quantity that he would have preferred due to damage of the sparring over the length of his career. 

“That was the most important thing [winning against Franklin],” the two-time unified heavyweight world champion said.

“Just win. Don’t get hit. My body had taken so much trauma. Even the sparring I was still in that don’t get hit vibe. I’ve taken so much punishment over the years with sparring. My body’s healed now. In the Franklin fight, I was sparring more cautiously. Now it’s like, let’s go motherfucker. Let’s fucking go. And digging deep. In that Franklin fight, I think we only did three twelve-rounders, two twelve-rounders. But now we’re doing 12 on Monday, 12 on Wednesday, 12 on the Saturday. Fuck it, let’s go. Hopefully, it’ll pay off. I’ve got to dig deep, but I don’t know where it’ll take me.”

The primary incentive for Joshua, if he is successful in defeating Whyte next month, is finally securing one of heavyweight boxing’s most wanted fights between himself and former WBC world heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder. The pair have been touted to face each other several times during their respective world title reigns. However, a deal could never have been agreed upon for various reasons. 

Joshua’s promoter, Eddie Hearn, has already stated that a deal is agreed in principle and that Joshua must win on August 12th to secure and seal the deal to face the “Bronze Bomber” in December, which will be held in Saudi Arabia. 

Matt Christie, the editor of Boxing News, asked Joshua directly if all the talk about a fight with Wilder is proving to be a distraction. 

“It always has been,” answered Joshua. 

“Do you know what? I’m glad as well because people can see now that there are people that create hiccups and hurdles. It’s not just always I don’t wanna fight Wilder. Before, it was like people thinking oh, AJ’s ducking, or he doesn’t want to fight. It’s annoying. It was a big risk then as well, but I would’ve taken the fight.

“If you look at my career, you can see that I’ve always wanted to fight whoever really at any point, if that be Joseph Parker, Klitschko, Charles Martin, Dillian Whyte for the British. How can I not wanna fight Wilder? We collected all the belts. I never fought one guy for them. I went and fought everyone for them, but it was annoying, yeah, very annoying. Now I’m not really interested in having a conversation about Wilder until it’s real. I’ve done all that previously.”