Anthony Joshua declared it time to put his defeat of Wladimir Klitschko “to the side” as he prepared to make the fourth defence of his world heavyweight title against Carlos Takam.
Under the roof at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium, in front of an expected crowd of 70,000 – a world record for a fight at an indoor arena – the IBF and WBA champion fights for the first time since establishing himself as the world’s leading heavyweight.
April’s dramatic stoppage defeat of Klitschko, the dominant heavyweight of the modern era, represented the finest night of his decorated career and could yet also prove his defining night.
As well as securing his financial future, that victory – in which Joshua recovered from the first knockdown of his career – also made him one of Britain’s most popular figures, but far from revelling in that glory he is determined to move on.
“We’re going to have to put that Klitschko win to the side at some stage,” Joshua said. “Boxing’s unforgiving: that was that, this is now.
“Carlos is a completely different animal to Klitschko. In terms of style, technique and preparation, everything’s completely different. My mindset’s completely different, and it’s going to be a completely different fight.
“It’s not like this brings an ego. I keep my feet on the ground. I’m still grinding, I’m still hungry.”
Saturday’s fight, which comes 24 years after Lennox Lewis and Frank Bruno fought each other for the WBC heavyweight title at Cardiff’s national stadium, takes place with Joshua and Takam having had less than a fortnight to prepare for each other following Kubrat Pulev’s withdrawal.
“My trainer Rob McCracken has always taught me to focus on myself, my own personal development, rather than the opponent,” Joshua said.
“He’s never trained me for just one style of opponent. Whether I was fighting Kubrat Pulev or Carlos Takam, he’s adapted me and it’s been about my own balance, footwork and technique.
“I’ve fought a lot of people like his style: our styles will create some real fireworks.
“People can relate to boxing because it’s a labourer’s sport. You have to get up early, work hard, work when you’re sick and work away from your family. We’re labourers and entertainers.”
The 36-year-old Frenchman Takam, who was born in Cameroon, has never previously fought for a world title but lost to WBO champion Joseph Parker before the New Zealander’s title reign began, and he said: “This will change my life. I’m going to beat him, of course.
“It’s true I met Anthony [before] and said ‘We’re going to have a fight’. I didn’t know at that time it would be now, but I’m here, and I’m ready.”