Anthony Joshua has set his sights on a springtime homecoming fight at Tottenham Hotspur’s 60,000-seat stadium after regaining his WBA, IBF and WBO world heavyweight title belts against Andy Ruiz Jr.
“London’s calling, I think,” said Joshua, who is likely to face the IBF mandatory challenger the Bulgarian Kubrat Pulev in April or May.
What next for restored heavyweight world champion Anthony Joshua?
“British supporters do play a big part in my career. Any time I’m on home soil, I can’t lose.”
Joshua also revealed that a health issue that required an operation left him “tired” and “drained” in the buildup to his shock defeat against Ruiz in June – and that it was so troublesome he had to put a bucket of ice on his head before his ring walk at Madison Square Garden.
“I had some issue with my health which I was going through for a long time,” Joshua admitted. “I didn’t know what was wrong with me. I felt so tired and drained and thought it must be down to training. In the changing room before the fight I got a bucket of ice and was putting my head in it thinking: ‘Why do I feel so tired?’”
The 30-year-old did not reveal what the problem was but said it was diagnosed after a checkup following the Ruiz fight and quickly dealt with.
“Even in this camp I had an operation done but as I’d started training in June I had no issues. The responsibilities of being world champion are difficult. All that stuff, feeling so tired, dealing with obligations. Now I have energy, I haven’t missed a session.”
The Briton intends to start light training for his second reign as heavyweight champion before Christmas, after pledging to keep learning “the sweet science” – while his promoter, Eddie Hearn, plans to nail down an opponent and venue quickly for what will be Joshua’s first contest in the UK since defeating the Russian Alexander Povetkin in September 2018.
“I felt like we upped our game preparing for Ruiz this time. We were doing longer rounds, we brought in a lot more sparring partners, I kept my mind thinking, challenging myself.
Even in the fight on Saturday there were challenges, even if not physically. Mentally staying switched on was really challenging. And it worked really well.”
Joshua had talked about going back to school after his seventh-round defeat at Madison Square Garden against Ruiz and he proved as good as his word, repeatedly jabbing and moving to win a wide points victory over the Mexican-American.
Ruiz sows seeds of destruction and Joshua reaps the benefit
Afterwards, when asked if he had ever felt better in a ring, he replied: “No, I felt good. I’m getting more and more experienced, understanding myself, and that’s a good thing. Even though I took my loss, I didn’t lose heart. I’m back again, I’m learning. And we’re going to get back into the gym. I’m going to go to Sheffield early and just keep practising my skills.”
Joshua also expressed his sympathy for Ruiz, who confessed afterwards that he had spent three months partying, eating and not training after becoming world champion.
When asked if he could empathise, Joshua said: “Yeah, I did it. Everyone does it. The belts can be your best friend or your best enemy. It just depends on you as a person. It’s hard to say no. Even though I gave Andy the belts at the weigh-in, it’s hard being champion. Trust me. It’s not all fun. I remember when Tyson said: ‘You couldn’t walk in my shoes.’ It’s not what it seems like, this life of dedication. It’s a fucking headache.”