As he prepares to face Jermaine Franklin at the O2 Arena in London on April 1, heavyweight Anthony Joshua says he has put his heart back into boxing.
After two losses to unified champion Oleksandr Usyk, the 33-year-old Briton is looking for his first victory since 2020.
Joshua stated that he is more committed to his boxing career than ever before.
“I’ve always wanted to build an empire, but I made a conscious decision last year to focus solely on boxing,” he explained.
In his comeback fight, Joshua will take on Franklin.
“This is probably the most serious I’ve taken it in my career.”
Joshua was joined at the news conference by his new coach, Derrick James, who flew from Texas to London.
The two-time heavyweight world champion fights at the O2 Arena for the first time since 2016, and will not be fighting for a world title for the first time in eight years.
Joshua has fought at major outdoor stadiums the majority of the time since his last fight at the O2, where he has fought seven times.
American Franklin, 29, is the clear underdog, as he was when he lost on points to Dillian Whyte last December.
But Usyk’s two humiliating defeats have left Joshua at a crossroads in his career.
“I’m using everything I’ve been through – positive and negative – to fuel my camp now,” he said.
Many consider Franklin to be Joshua’s inferior opponent, but he was brought in to boost the Briton’s confidence.
Joshua won his first world title in 2016 at the O2 Arena. He returns changed after seven years and 11 world championship fights.
In defeats to Andy Ruiz and Oleksandr Usyk, the aura of the ferocious finisher has slowly eroded.
Joshua requires a victory. Eddie Hearn, the promoter, called April’s competition “perhaps the most important chapter so far” for his star athlete.
The Watford striker stopped short of promising fireworks and remained silent until Hearn summoned him to speak.
When asked about his motivations, he stated, “money, money, money,” but also stated that he had eliminated “distractions” in the previous year and was feeling “no pressure” before the crucial meeting.
A victory over Franklin may not reveal anything new about a fighter who almost single-handedly ushered in a modern era of interest in British boxing, but it may provide insight into whether the old Joshua, the once unstoppable freight train, can return.