Anthony Joshua vs Alexander Povetkin: Heavyweight champions opens up on family life ahead of fight

Joshua has previously kept his family life extremely private but he has started to allow his young son to feature on his social media

Declan Taylor
Friday 21 September 2018 17:21
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Anthony Joshua weighs in ahead of title fight against Povetkin

Anthony Joshua has emerged as perhaps the most recognisable face in British sport since dispatching Ukrainian legend Wladimir Klitschko beneath Wembley’s arch 17 months ago.

But, as he prepares for his third outing at the national stadium, the 28-year-old has revealed that someone particularly close to home still cannot quite put a name to his face.

His two-year-old son Joseph, or JJ to his famous father, is still too young to attend his dad’s fights so will not have any idea where the 6ft 6in heavyweight is off to when he leaves for work on Saturday afternoon.

Joshua, the WBO, WBA and IBF champion, defends his titles against Russian Alexander Povetkin in arguably the biggest test of his career with another 80,000 paying customers expected through the turnstiles at Wembley.

The clash is expected to generate around £14m on pay-per-view television but JJ is still not aware that the man regularly on his screen is any relation to him.

“He doesn’t really know I’m a boxer,” Joshua says. “I was showing him a video of me the other week and he said ‘that guy looks like you’. That was funny.

“I don’t think boxing is for him, I hope he’s not a fighter.”

Joshua has previously kept his family life extremely private but he has started to allow his young son to feature on his social media. Most recently, the toddler was seen pleading with his dad to allow him to attend the gym alongside him.

“Do you know what it is,” he explained. “If he’s a bit ill, he has to take his medicine, I tell him it will make him strong. That’s why he knows about the gym, he’s aware.

“But what he loves is cars – he loves going out and seeing cars and buses. So whenever I go out he says ‘can I come with you?’

“I’ve seen some parents who put their kids through gym routines. If you want your kid to be in sport there’s a certain type of lifestyle you have to put them through. I don’t think I could put mine through that.”

The heavyweight champ wants to protect his body

It was put to Joshua that he may wish to insulate his child from the violence with which he makes a living. So far, the Londoner has seen off 20 of his 21 opponents inside the distance and the vast majority ended up battered, bloody and broken,

But AJ said: “What? Keep him away from that? No, no way.

“Boxing for me wasn’t about that. It was about the lifestyle. All that stuff is great.

“Even now, a kid goes off your instinct. So when a kid falls over if you say ‘oh my! Are you ok?’ they react to that. So I say ‘don’t worry’ and brush it off. I want to get him rolling with the punches to let him know that this is life.

“You’re going to see the tough times and the good times, but you’ll know what it meant to me and why I got involved in it. That is what’s important.

“Have a look but ask questions. Don’t just be blinded by all the bright lights and stuff.”

Anthony Joshua during his pre-fight public workout this week

But Joshua is acutely aware that those lights will fade quickly once he loses his air of invincibility. The 28-year-old has not lost since 2011, when he was beaten by Magomedrasul Majidov in the final of the world amateur championships.

The result of that bout, which he appeared to win, brought him to tears and Joshua says he is now driven by that deep fear of losing.

Reflecting on 2011, he said: “So that time, I swear, I think it was the first time I dropped a tear when I lost that night. It meant that much. It was proper. One of those Klitschko-esque fights.

“The Azerbaijani army was there, the president was there. People were telling me it was a robbery but I didn’t even know what a robbery was! That’s what’s weird – as an amateur you lose, you go again and build yourself back up. But as a pro, you lose and people say ‘ahh, he’s shit’. That’s why the fear of losing is a lot more now.

“The reality is, why is the heavyweight division interesting? Because one punch can change the course of a fight, you are in there for 12 rounds.

“At first I thought, ‘is Povetkin a good fight?’ Because now I am caught up in the commercial hype. But scrap all that, I’m up against one of the best fighters in the world.

“Always, that fear of losing is always there. If Sugar Ray Robinson lost, what makes someone else think they are going to go through boxing .... Sugar Ray Robinson, the best fighter of all time can lose. Sugar Ray Leonard. Marvin Hagler. Thomas Hearns. Roberto Duran. Muhammad Ali. Mike Tyson. Evander Holyfield. Riddick Bowe.

“So who am I to go undefeated? But I am content with it because I know those nights of negativity don’t define me.”

Povetkin will be no pushover

Saturday is not expected to be particularly negative from Joshua’s point of view. Bookies have priced him as long as 1/14 to win, although it was revealed by one oddsmaker that 90 per cent of all bets have gone on the live 7/1 underdog.

Joshua, who weighed in at 17st 8lbs – 22lbs heavier than Povetkin, has spent much of the build-up talking up the visitor’s chances but he answered with searing honesty when asked if he expects to win.

“Yeah – 100 per cent,” he said. “I am the best in the division. There is no doubt about it. It’s been proven. There hasn’t been a time in boxing since I’ve been an amateur that I haven’t been on top. “At whatever level I was at I have always been able to get to the top.”

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