Anthony Joshua expects to return to Wembley Stadium for his next fight in September, with either Zhilei Zhang or Deontay Wilder lined up as his opponent.

Joshua stopped Francis Ngannou in the second round in March, his fourth straight win since suffering back-to-back defeats to Oleksandr Usyk in 2021 and 2022. 

His last two fights have been held in Saudi Arabia, but as he inches closer to a shot at regaining the titles he lost to Usyk three years ago, he is eyeing a return to his native London.

"It'll be some date between September 20 and September 25. Whenever they tell me there's a date, you know I'll be ready 100 per cent," Joshua told TalkSport of his next fight.

"It's going be in London, Wembley Stadium, this is what I'm being told. If this is what they say, they usually stick to their word."

Pushed on possible opponents, he said the result of Zhang's upcoming bout with Wilder – who was scheduled to face Joshua in March only for those plans to be derailed by a shock defeat to Joseph Parker – will be decisive.

"On June 1 in Saudi Arabia, they've got Filip Hrgovic versus Daniel Dubois and Zhilei Zhang versus Deontay Wilder. Out of that pool, that's who I'll be fighting."

On Wilder, Joshua added: "If he looks good, that'll reignite that flame that he had. Boxing is all about perception, so I pray he does his thing and Zhang does his thing, and I'm ready."

There has also been plenty of talk about Joshua facing Tyson Fury in an all-British tussle in recent years. The WBC heavyweight champion faces Usyk in a huge unification bout next month, and with a two-way rematch clause present in their deal, they are likely to face off twice before the year is out.

When those obligations have been met, Joshua will be waiting, saying: "I know the fans want that big fight with Fury, but he's got his obligations with Usyk. 

"They're working on it but I've just got to stay focused, stay disciplined, steamroller through opponents and get closer and closer to having a fight with Fury. Hopefully that'll be in London as well."

Tyson Fury beat Deontay Wilder by seventh-round stoppage to win the WBC world heavyweight title in Las Vegas, on this day in 2020.

Fourteen months on from his controversial draw with Wilder in their first bout – when he out-boxed the champion only for two knockdowns to deny him victory – Fury had vowed to take the fight to the American.

He did just that, flooring his opponent twice and completely dominating the action before Wilder’s corner threw in the towel to save the bewildered champion from more punishment.

A right hand which landed near Wilder’s left ear saw the American go down heavily in the third and a right to the head and left hook to the body in the fifth had a tired Wilder down again.

Fury said: “Big shout-out to Deontay Wilder. He came here tonight, he manned up and really did show the heart of a champion.

“I hit him with a clean right hand and dropped him and he got back up and battled on into round seven. He is a warrior, he will be back, he will be a champion again.

“But I will say, the king has returned to the top.”

The rivalry concluded with a third fight the following year when it was Fury’s turn to take punishment, getting knocked down in the fourth round, only to rise off the canvas and produce a storming comeback and retain his title.

The Briton has since continued his unbeaten record with victories over Dillian Whyte, Derek Chisora and Francis Ngannou but recently pulled out of a fight with Oleksandr Usyk after suffering a cut in the build-up.

Otto Wallin believes Anthony Joshua is going through a "decline" and fancies his chances of dealing the Brit a fourth career defeat on Saturday.

Wallin will face Joshua in the main event of a stacked card billed as 'Day of Reckoning' in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, after Deontay Wilder takes on Joseph Parker.

Joshua is reportedly close to agreeing to face Wilder twice in 2024, though a surprise defeat to Wallin would surely deal a fatal blow to those plans.

Joshua lost his IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight belts to Oleksandr Usyk in 2021 before failing to recapture them in a rematch last year, though he has since responded with wins over Jermaine Franklin and Robert Helenius.

Though Wallin is still wary of the threat Joshua poses, the Swede senses an opportunity to add to his opponent's woes.

"I think that he's still one of the best fighters out there and he's done really well in his career and he deserves respect," Wallin told Stats Perform.

"Losing to Usyk and [Andy] Ruiz, there's no shame in that, they're very good fighters. But I think there's been a decline in his game, he hasn't really been the same lately. 

"But losing against those guys, anybody can. I think the timing of this fight is in my advantage. I have really good momentum and I don't know if he's in the same place."

Asked if he was confident of a surprise victory, Wallin said: "I am. I feel very good. I've done everything I can. 

"I remember my dad, he always used to tell me that once you step in the ring, you've got to know that you've done everything you possibly can to be as prepared as possible.

"I kept that with me over the years and I always try to prepare to the best of my ability. If I'm not ready now, I'm never going to be ready.

"I'm ready to go in there, have fun, I feel like I have no pressure. He has all the pressure and I can just go in and have fun and just beat him.

"We found out about this fight about seven weeks before December 23rd. We didn't have too much time. I think we had enough time because I was already in very good shape. 

"I had just had a win over [Murat] Gassiev on September 30th, I had a week off and then I was back training. I was in a really good place when we got the call so I was happy about that.

"Training has just been going really well. I think me already being in shape from the last fight and then also having the extra motivation for this fight made it all so much better and I feel like I'm in great shape, probably the best shape of my life."

Wallin has won his last six fights since losing to Tyson Fury via a unanimous decision in 2019, but the 33-year-old knows claiming the scalp of Joshua would be his biggest victory to date.

"It would be amazing. It's a big thing for me and a big thing for Sweden," he said.

"I get a lot of support over there. I think it would be amazing for me, my family, my team. So we are really excited about this opportunity."

Joseph Parker believes he can take advantage of any rustiness on Deontay Wilder's part when the fighters meet on Saturday, expressing confidence in his chances of a shock win.

Former WBC heavyweight champion Wilder will face Parker in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on Saturday, with Anthony Joshua also fighting on the same bill as he takes on Otto Wallin.

Saturday's bout will be Wilder's first since a first-round knockout of Robert Helenius in October 2022, while Parker has already fought three times this year, overcoming Jack Massey, Faiga Opelu and Simon Kean.

Wilder is reportedly close to agreeing a two-fight deal with Joshua for 2024, but Parker is confident he can deal a fatal blow to his hopes of facing the Brit on Saturday.  

"When I beat him, then we're going to have a great 2024. When I beat him, I'm going to be celebrating on the flight back home," Parker told Stats Perform.

"I've had the best preparation for this fight. Like I said before, I started off in Ireland where we have a great setup. We've got a nice gym that we use, a great house that we stay in. 

"We've got local shops that we go to, butchers that look after us, and we've got the sea right next to us that we jump in every day.

"Then we finished off in England and now we're here in Saudi Arabia. There's nothing more that I could have done to prepare for this fight. I am primed and ready."

With 14 months having passed since Wilder last stepped into the ring, Parker believes the American could struggle to acclimatise on his return to action.

Parker previously spent close to a year out of the ring before losing to Joe Joyce last September, and he says that absence impacted his performance.

"I feel like being out of the ring for a long time can definitely have an impact on performance, but we will soon find out if it's going to have an impact on him or not," he added.

"It did affect me. That's why this year has been a great year, keeping busy, having three fights already and having this fight as my fourth fight. It's going to be a great night for team Parker.

"I feel great. I feel like I've restarted my career but I have all the experience to help me with this new start and constantly learning off Andy [Lee]. Everything is perfect. It's now it's all up to myself to put it all on display on fight night, put it all together."

Former WBO middleweight champion Lee has been preparing Parker for the fight, having also been part of Tyson Fury's team as the Gypsy King overcame Wilder twice in 2020 and 2021.

Asked about the importance of Lee, Parker said: "Andy Lee as my trainer has got all the experience to pass on, being a fighter himself and a champion himself, and he was at the fights when Tyson was fighting Deontay.

"I was there for all three fights myself, it was good to see it in person. It's great to get a bit of advice off Tyson. 

"But ultimately I'm going to be in the ring putting on best performance and I'm going to take care of business myself."

Anthony Joshua believes he is getting his "rhythm" back after suffering back-to-back defeats to Oleksandr Usyk.

Joshua lost his IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight belts against Usyk on points in London in 2021, before the Brit lost another decision to the former undisputed cruiserweight champion in their rematch in Saudi Arabia last year.

Joshua returned to the ring with an uninspiring points win over Jermaine Franklin before stopping Robert Helenius in eight rounds in August.

Those victories have put him back in the heavyweight title picture, setting up a bout with Otto Wallin in Riyadh this weekend. Deontay Wilder is set to fight Joshua Parker on the same card, and a two-fight deal has reportedly been agreed for Joshua and Wilder to meet twice in 2024.

Joshua feels he is getting back to form ahead of his fight this weekend, telling Stats Perform: "The [Oleksandr] Usyk fights were definitely tough times. Not perfect but we live to fight another day.

"But I'm here now and I'm definitely finding my feet again, for sure. That rhythm that one needs to be victorious.

"I set out a plan and I'm sticking to that. It was to be competitive, to fight three times this year. Who knows what will happen in this fight? But I'm leading towards victory.

"In terms of sticking to the plan, I've been consistent, which has helped me get my rhythm back for sure."

With all the potential distractions of future bouts hanging over this weekend's card, Joshua is remaining focused on fight week, saying: "I believe getting through a training camp in good fashion is a big part of being victorious. It's been very challenging and I've pushed myself.

"We're still staying focused. I remain in the camp mindset because I want to still be victorious. I don't want to lose myself with only a week to go and I'm going to get to the fight in good health and a good mindset and just do what I'm supposed to do."

The Wallin fight will be Joshua's first working under Ben Davison, his fifth trainer in three years after previously working with the likes of Robert McCracken and Derrick James.

Joshua is pleased with the impact Davison has had, explaining: "Working with Ben has been good. I've been disciplined. I've followed instructions.

"I'm a fast learner, not many are, but I'm a fast learner. So I take on board what they're saying.

"I trust in what he's saying as well. I wouldn't be in Ben Davison's camp if I didn't trust him and now I just have to do what I'm being told to do on the night of the fight."

Former Joshua conqueror Usyk is set to take on Tyson Fury in February, when a first undisputed heavyweight champion in the four-belt era will be crowned.

That fight is not at the front of Joshua's mind, however, with the 34-year-old stating: "I'm not focused on that one at the minute.

"It'll be a good fight. But all I'm focusing on is a day of reckoning and my opponent that's in front of me. I haven't really done a whole breakdown, but I'll be a good fight for sure."

Deontay Wilder claims boxing has missed him more than he has missed the sport during his time away.

Wilder, a former WBC heavyweight champion, is set to fight Joseph Parker in Saudi Arabia on Saturday in his first fight since October 2022.

His last bout was a first round knockout of Robert Helenius, his first fight since losing the third meeting with Tyson Fury in their epic trilogy.

Wilder claims he has not missed the sport during his time out of the ring, telling Stats Perform: "I've been enjoying my life.

"I've been enjoying all my children and enjoying all the loved ones and all my brothers that's been around, so life hasn't been bad for me. It's been amazing.

"So I can't say that I miss it. When you're having so much fun outside of the ring, how can you miss anything when you have so much love around you?

"I think boxing has missed me more than I have missed boxing."

Saturday's fight with Parker could offer Wilder a way back into the heavyweight title picture, with reports that a two-fight deal with Anthony Joshua, who is fighting Otto Wallin on the same card, has been agreed ahead of this weekend's event in Riyadh.

Any slip-ups this weekend will likely spell trouble for that agreement, but Wilder is feeling confident ahead of his fight, saying: "Camp has been amazing. My whole team has been amazing. Being here in Riyadh has been amazing.

"We've put in the rounds and we're ready to go. They say when you put in the work, you have no doubts in yourself.

"When you turn all stones, there's no doubt. And I've done that and more, especially in this short period of time. I'm very proud of myself, of what I've been able to achieve in a short amount of time.

"I think the world is going to be very excited and they're going to be surprised at what their eyes will see come Saturday night.

"I am looking forward to Saturday night. I'm always excited to get back in the ring, to put on a great performance, to knock someone out as people come to see me knock them out."

Wilder has received criticism for comments he has made in the past, once saying he wanted to kill a man in the ring to "put a body" on his record.

Wilder feels the backlash of those comments is unfair, explaining: "Sometimes I have to hold my words of what I want to say because, you know, when I say certain things, I get criticised, I get stones thrown at me.

"But if somebody else says the same thing, they don't have the same punishment. I think because when I say certain things, I think because people know that I can actually do it, then they cast stones at me.

"But they're just as guilty because you pay to watch it, see it happen. So if I speak it, you're paying to see it. So you're just as guilty as I [am] saying it."

Anthony Joshua has vowed to deliver a “demolition job” on Otto Wallin when the British heavyweight fights on the same bill as Deontay Wilder in Saudi Arabia on December 23.

Joshua, who is looking to insert himself back into the world title picture, will face the Swede as part of a stacked card in Riyadh.

The 34-year-old Joshua, who beat Robert Helenius in his last bout in August, will fight after Wilder, who faces Joseph Parker on the undercard.

The 2012 Olympic gold medallist is on a quest to become a three-time heavyweight champion and he sees Wallin, who claimed a points victory over Murat Gassiev in September, as the next step.

“I’m looking forward to delivering my message to Otto Wallin on December 23,” Joshua told a press conference.

“I can’t predict the future but I know what I want to do. I believe I’m going to be three-time heavyweight champion and the first step is to put a demolition job on Otto Wallin.

“It’s going to be a really good time to go to Saudi. It’s going to be big, we haven’t seen a card like this before.

“This is not a one-stop shop. This is a vision, this is my first stop and I will deliver the message. I’m determined to win and get back to my peak.”

Joshua lost his WBA, WBO and IBF heavyweight belts to Oleksandr Usyk in 2021 and he fell short in their rematch the following year.

Eddie Hearn, his promoter, believes the best is still to come for Joshua, who will step into the ring for a third time this year after victories against Jermaine Franklin and Helenius.

Hearn said: “This is a tough fight. We saw (Wallin) against Tyson Fury, he’s a good southpaw and we have seen something different from AJ (Joshua).

“I think the best chapter is still to write for AJ. He changed the face of Saudi boxing and this is a challenge he wants to take.

“He wants to be heavyweight champion again and I think this will be a destructive performance from him.”

Hearn talked up a potential showdown between Joshua and Wilder next year, saying: “Wilder is potentially a massive fight to bring in 2024.

“This lines everything up for AJ and this lines up his whole career. I can’t wait to see him shine on December 23.”

The date was initially reserved for Tyson Fury and Usyk’s undisputed heavyweight showdown, which has since been postponed following the Briton’s lacklustre performance against Francis Ngannou last month.

Wallin, whose only defeat came against Fury, admitted the fight against Joshua was a bit of a surprise.

He said: “It’s an easy fight to make for us. I didn’t expect to fight again this year. I’m in a great position and feel on top of the world.

“I have been waiting for this for a long time and I’m blessed to be in this position.”

British heavyweight Daniel Dubois will take on American Jarrell Miller on a stacked undercard, which also features Manchester’s Lyndon Arthur challenging WBA light-heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol and London’s Ellis Zorro taking on IBF cruiserweight holder Jai Opetaia.

Deontay Wilder is ready and willing to take on Anthony Joshua next, insisting it would be a “major disaster” if they never fought each other.

Wilder and Joshua were unable to agree terms for an undisputed showdown when they held all four major world heavyweight titles between them, but speculation has been building recently that the two former champions could finally square-off in 2024.

Joshua intimated last weekend the highly-anticipated bout could be part of a blockbuster card topped by Tyson Fury taking on Oleksandr Usyk next spring.


Even though he has not competed since knocking out Robert Helenius inside one round 12 months ago – his first fight since losing a trilogy bout against Fury in October 2021 – Wilder is primed to face Joshua.

 “(It is) a fight everyone is looking forward to and hopefully it happens and I’m doing everything in my power to make it happen, and I’m referring to the Anthony Joshua fight,” Wilder said on Instagram.

“Anthony, you’re getting it from the horse’s mouth himself: I’m here, I’m ready to go.

“I heard some things your promoter (Eddie Hearn) said that my last fight only lasted a short period of time and I haven’t fought in a year and he doesn’t know if I want to fight or not.

“But I’m letting you know I’m ready to fight – let’s make this the best time of our lives. This would be a major disaster if we were never able to get in the ring and put our stamp down in history.”

Despite his recent inactivity, Wilder, who turned 38 on Sunday, is renowned for his ferocious punch power, with 42 of his 43 victories in 46 professional contests have been inside the distance.

Joshua has rebounded from a pair of losses to Usyk, who snatched the Briton’s WBA, IBF and WBO titles, with underwhelming performances in wins over Jermaine Franklin and Helenius this year.

Joshua (26-3, 23KOs) is planning another tune-up in December before taking on former WBC champion Wilder, who rubbished suggestions his British rival might be biting off more than he can chew.

“When people think about classics and great fights, I want them to think about us as well,” the American added. “Being able to do that, we’ve got to get in the ring.

“The silliest thing I’ve heard is people saying you’re not ready and that’s the silliest thing because I don’t believe that – I hope you’re ready, I think you’re ready. Let’s make this happen.”

Former UFC champion Francis Ngannou is "crazy" for agreeing to switch to boxing for October's bout with Tyson Fury, according to unified middleweight champion Claressa Shields.

Ngannou, who relinquished his UFC Heavyweight title as part of his move to the Professional Fighters League (PFL) earlier this year, will make his professional boxing debut against the WBC Heavyweight champion in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on October 28.

Fury's decision to face the unranked Ngannou has been criticised by many boxing fans after the Gypsy King failed to reach an agreement on a unification bout with Oleksandr Usyk earlier this year.

Shields made the opposite switch from boxing to mixed martial arts in 2021 and has a 1-1 PFL record, meaning she is well-versed in the differences between the disciplines. 

Ngannou will be a huge underdog when he steps into the ring for the first time, and while Shields is excited to see him in such a high-profile fight, she knows he is at a major disadvantage.

"It's going to be very interesting fight," Shields told Stats Perform. "Francis left UFC because of low pay. He wasn't being paid properly as a champion, which I felt terrible for – he had a couple of injuries and everything. 

"I think him coming to the PFL, they can offer him a nice cheque and really honour that he was a UFC champion and that he's going to work hard to be PFL champion. 

"I'm happy that Francis is getting his just [reward], fighting against Tyson Fury in boxing. I think he's just so crazy. 

"All the girls in MMA, I think, are very, very smart. If they were to come to box me inside the ring, I would destroy them, truth be told." 

Ngannou is, however, known for his punching power and is being trained for the bout by Mike Tyson, which Shields hopes may help the Cameroon-born fighter keep things interesting. 

"Francis has great hands, but in boxing and in MMA, distancing and everything is completely different," she added.

"I just feel like I just want to see it. I'm excited about it, and Francis is training with Mike Tyson, so we may see some things we weren't expecting to see. 

"I just know that Tyson Fury is a really great boxer. He's strong and I believe Tyson's going to win the fight, but I can't wait to see what Francis does to move from the cage."

Fury has previously discussed the idea of competing in MMA, but Shields is sceptical, adding: "I heard Tyson talking about it, but I don't think he would get inside the cage. 

"Inside the cage, under MMA rules, he gets kicked, [opponents] take you down to the ground and knee you and things like that. I just don't see Fury doing it. But he's crazy, so you never know."

Elsewhere, Anthony Joshua says "positive" talks have taken place over a heavyweight meeting with Deontay Wilder following the Brit's one-punch knockout of Robert Helenius earlier this month.

While Shields is fond of both fighters, she feels compelled to back fellow American Wilder if the bout is made.

"I am a fan of both," she said. "Deontay Wilder's like a big brother to me and Anthony Joshua's the heavyweight I have a crush on because he is so gorgeous! 

"But it has to be the American Deontay. Even though I think Joshua has better skill, I think Deontay Wilder has just got dynamite in both hands and we've seen Joshua get knocked out before. 

"I know I'm going to be cheering for Deontay Wilder, he's like my brother."

Anthony Joshua remains on course for a future bout with Deontay Wilder after he produced a spectacular stoppage of Robert Helenius at London’s O2 Arena on Saturday night.

Joshua claimed the 26th victory of his professional career with a first knock-out in three years, but even before this bout all the pre-fight talk was about what next for the British heavyweight.

Here, the PA news agency takes a look at the state of play for the former two-time world heavyweight champion.

Was the booing justified?

The Matchroom show had been in doubt a week earlier when Dillian Whyte had to be withdrawn after “adverse analytical findings” were discovered in his doping test with the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA).

It saw Helenius drafted in at the 11th hour but while there is no doubt a sold-out O2 Arena would have been happy to see Joshua in action, they clearly wanted more from the former Olympian during the first half of the 12-rounder. Joshua faced whistles and boos during round three and jeers followed after another pedestrian round saw the contest reach its halfway point. A thunderous right hand ensured the next outburst by spectators inside the London venue was applause.

DJ getting a tune out of AJ?

While Joshua was tentative early on against Helenius and did not want to initially trade off with the 39-year-old, some context must be provided. The Finchley boxer had only a week to prepare for his Finnish opponent and there is a number of inches difference between Whyte and Helenius, which would have brought out a significant adjustment for the home favourite.

Joshua struggled to land with his right hand early on but was urged to keep persevering by highly-respected trainer Derrick James in only their second bout together. James told Joshua to “keep shooting the right” and it landed emphatically during the seventh round with Helenius sent toppling to the canvas.

Wilder next?

Even before Whyte’s withdrawal, a large chunk of the discourse around Joshua was whether he would actually fight Wilder next. The former world heavyweight champions have been speculated to lock horns for several years and it would have been a unification contest as recently as four years ago.

Joshua had to block out the noise to do the business against Helenius but after he did, all eyes are now on Wilder. Saudi Arabia promotional entity Skills Challenge is eager to host the mouth-watering clash and dates in January and February are being drawn up.

So that’s that then?

We have been here many times before, not only with Joshua and Wilder but Joshua and fellow Briton Tyson Fury. It seems getting the best of the heavyweight division in the ring together is one of the hardest jobs in the sport. However, there is a lot of reason for optimism on this occasion.

A traditional stumbling block can be the fact world heavyweight champions have mandatory challengers to face, but with Joshua and Wilder holding no belts, they are free to fight whoever they wish. The money on offer should satisfy the demands of both boxers, but Wilder’s trainer Malik Scott did hint this week that his fighter would like to be active before fighting Joshua.

An October bout was proposed but even if that happens, these two generational heavyweights should still trade blows in 2024.

Anthony Joshua will ignore the hype and adopt a gladiatorial mindset if his proposed bout with Deontay Wilder gets the green light.

Discussions are advancing between the two camps and Saudi Arabian promotional agency Skills Challenge over the two ex-heavyweight champions doing battle in the ring in January.

Joshua ensured he remained on track for a future meeting with former WBC belt-holder Wilder by knocking out Robert Helenius in the seventh round of Saturday’s show at London’s O2 Arena.

Anticipation is now growing over two of the best heavyweights of the era finally stepping into the ring together after years of a match-up, which at one stage would have been a unification contest, being mooted.

But Joshua insisted: “There is no pressure on this whole situation, I am just rolling with the punches. It is not as important as this and that.

“I am just happy I have done my job and I can go home. It is not a big deal. I will take it step by step.

“For me, it is just another fight. I can’t get caught up in the hype and the build-up, what it means to people. For me I have to go in there as a gladiator, right?

“A gladiator doesn’t worry about what it means to other people, he just goes to fight. Take it from my aspect as a fighter, I am training to fight someone and hurt someone.

“I have no interest in what people think of me in the future. All I have an interest in is taking this guy out one way or another. That is just where my head is at.”

That mentality extends to speculation Wilder could himself arrange a tune-up fight, having last been in the ring back in October when he stopped Helenius in the first round of their New York clash.

While in the past this bout could have been for all the world heavyweight belts, Joshua admits the absence of titles makes it an easier contest to make, with Saudi representatives ringside in London at the weekend.

“Wilder is able to do what he wants. I have no control or concern about what he does, honestly,” the Finchley boxer added.

“I can’t answer for him and I don’t really have an interest too much on what his thought process is and psychology behind it. It is too much energy wasted on unimportant things.

“For me personally, the networks when we were champions was an issue, but now we’re here and it is a good time to be a heavyweight because Wilder is not champion any more, I am not champion, we don’t have network pressure, mandatory pressure.

“When I had four of the belts, I was challenging all my mandatories every other month and now I am free. When we look at the landscape, it is probably easier now to get active and busy again. That is probably the same situation for him as well.”

Joshua’s aim for this year was to fight more after solitary bouts in 2022, 2021 and 2020, but wins over Jermaine Franklin and Helenius have not kept the critics at bay.

The 33-year-old was booed and jeered at points on Saturday night before a devastating right hand produced a knock-out of the year contender.

It appeared to briefly pierce the armoury Joshua has built around him during a professional career that will reach a decade in October and future plans for the Briton were hinted at in the aftermath of his 26th win.

He said: “I will be honest, I am not going to answer anything negative. I feel like there is too much, ‘What do you feel about the booing or this or that’.

“I have no interest in conversing with any more negativity, I just need to hear some positive stuff. There is too much.

“Why are we so focused on so much negativity? We just had a great show, it was one of the best cards, it was heavyweight boxing, there was a knock-out. Let’s address something positive for once.

“Retiring healthy (is the aim). Just leaving the game healthy and paying my dues as a British heavyweight. I have put in a lot of work and I have paid my dues.

“One day I know I will be able to support some up-and-coming fighters, speak to them about the psychological aspect, business aspect and the training aspect of the game.

“I just feel it is very challenging and a lot of people will find it challenging to push through.”

Anthony Joshua is confident a potential fight with Deontay Wilder will happen soon and insists he continues to carry the heavyweight division.

Joshua claimed the 26th victory of his professional career on Saturday with a thunderous seventh-round stoppage of last-minute opponent Robert Helenius at London’s O2 Arena.

While it was a spectacular finish, Joshua faced boos during the third round before jeers returned by the halfway mark following another pedestrian round.

The sold-out crowd were up on their feet after one minute and 27 seconds of round seven, but this contest was always a stepping stone to an eagerly-anticipated clash with ex-WBC belt-holder Wilder.

Discussions between the camps of Joshua and Wilder continue to take place with Saudi Arabia’s promotional company Skills Challenge looking to host the bout between former champions in January or February.

“Any time is a good time to fight. It could have been Wilder eight years ago or Wilder now. It don’t matter,” Joshua insisted.

“It is only a fight and boxing wins so roll on really. There is no worry to me when it is.

“I am just happy we can get the fight going and I think people appreciate that I am doing my best to keep heavyweight boxing on the map.

“Yeah, we’re carrying heavyweight boxing. I have believed that for years I have played my part in bringing entertainment to heavyweight boxing.

“That is why you are asking about the Wilder fight. I am not comparing what it could have been, I’m just happy that we’re getting this fight under way potentially soon because it does great for boxing I think.

“We’ll look back in years to come and think, ‘look at that era, that guy fought everyone,’ and that’s what is important. Not protecting you zero. It is about fighting the best and giving your best.”

There is no guessing who Joshua’s final sentence was aimed at with fellow Briton Tyson Fury set to take on UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou in Riyadh on October 28.

Joshua would have celebrated a decade in the pro ranks that month and despite not holding any belts for nearly two years, he is confident his team can strike a deal with Wilder’s camp.

He said: “I don’t feel pressure any more. Remember I am not a heavyweight champion, I leave that to the other guys. I am just a contender trying to make my way.

“It is not easy to get these fights over the line, he (Wilder) didn’t fight Andy Ruiz Jr. It is not easy to get these fights over but I have got full trust in my team.

“They’ve taken me a long way to become unified two-time heavyweight champion of the world. We collected belt after belt. Four of the five major belts. IBO, IBF, WBO, WBA.

“We collected all them belts, defended them multiply times, done great business, stadium fights, fought in American, Saudi.

“My team are amazing so I put all my faith in them to deliver. We’ve just got to hope the other team play ball.”

Joshua was quick to credit trainer Derrick James for his first knock-out victory in three years.

In only their second fight together and after dealing with Dillian Whyte’s late withdrawal, James reiterated to his tutelage to keep “shooting the right” and it helped to produce the money shot before midnight in England’s capital.

While frustration had started to grow over Joshua failing to consistently engage with Helenius, who had suffered a vicious first-round loss to Wilder in New York last October, the Finchley boxer was comfortable with his tactics.

He questioned: “Are they booing me or booing Helenius? That is the question.

“I think they don’t understand it is competitive boxing. We are trying to shut each others passes down.

“It is a game of chest. When you are playing, it is the most interesting and thinking man’s sport but from the outside chest is a boring game.

“Why am I going to go in there and trade from round one?

“We are building confidence in myself, which is important and I have confidence in my team.

“It was a late replacement and Helenius’ reputation was damaged due to the fact he was knocked out in a round, but he’s a very good operator.

“He was presenting certain obstacles for me to get over and Derrick guided me to that knock-out.

“I am just happy to get the win because I always know after one win it can lead onto something spectacular and I believe we’re onto something big.”

Anthony Joshua will try to ignore speculation and comparisons with Deontay Wilder when he steps into the ring to face Robert Helenius at London’s O2 Arena on Saturday.

Helenius was only drafted in at the 11th hour when original opponent Dillian Whyte failed a drugs test with the Voluntary Anti-Doping Assocation (VADA), but it has added further intrigue with Wilder’s shadow looming over the Briton.

The talk surrounding Joshua, like for many of his recent fights, is about what next and talks between his camp and Wilder’s team continue over a proposed clash at the end of this year or at the start of 2024.

An eagerly-anticipated future bout between two former world heavyweight champions will only happen if Joshua shuts out the noise to do the business against Helenius, who suffered a first-round knock-out to Wilder in October.

“I have to ignore it. It is one step at a time,” Joshua insisted when asked about ex-WBC belt holder Wilder.

“When I fought Jason Gavern, I knocked him out, Wilder took longer. When I fought Eric Molina, I knocked him out in three and Wilder took nine rounds.

“There will always be comparisons. This is my own fight with Helenius, no-one else’s. I can’t fail.”

Joshua repeated the same sentiments before a laboured display on his way to a unanimous points victory against Jermaine Franklin in April, which got the Finchley boxer back on the comeback trail, but his preparation for this 29th contest of his career has been far from ideal.

Last weekend, Joshua trained knowing it could all be for nothing after he discovered on Saturday morning that Whyte had been pulled from the show but Friday’s fiery weigh-in exchange with Helenius showed he is locked in.

Joshua tipped the scales at 17st and 12lbs, while Helenius was a pound lighter, before the duo exchanged words – with the British heavyweight inviting his veteran opponent to fight there and then instead of 24 hours later if he wished.

Joshua admitted: “There was one session where I was like, ‘what are we training for?’ We trained on Saturday and maybe then I felt what am I training for, but we just had to flip the coin.

“I could spend more time complaining about it, due to this late replacement whoever it might be, but I couldn’t put my energy into complaining. I had to change the script.”

Joshua, who reached the pinnacle of the sport with a victory over Wladimir Klitschko at a sold-out Wembley in 2017, still believes he can become world champion again but Helenius, who should be on a family holiday in Lapland after he beat Mika Mielonen inside a 15th-century castle in Finland last weekend, has other ideas.

Helenius added: “I can’t compare him to Wilder. I have also been sparring before with David Haye, I have been sparring the Klitschkos, both of them, I have been sparring Tyson Fury, Wilder.

“I have even been sparring Joshua when he was going against Klitschko so I have been a long time in this game.

“He is a tough guy. I think we went eight-round sessions. It was pretty close. Hard-hitter, good technicals, a little bit robotic but his last fight, he made a good fight against Jermaine.

“I haven’t been in the ring for a while with him but now is the best time to win.

“Nobody will remember a coward.”

A heated weigh-in on Friday further demonstrated Anthony Joshua’s laser focus on Robert Helenius despite a potential bout with Deontay Wilder looming in the background.

Joshua and Helenius took part in an intense staredown at Westfields in Shepherds Bush after they both tipped the scales just shy of 18 stone ahead of Saturday’s fight at the O2 Arena in London.

Helenius was only drafted in at the 11th hour when original opponent Dillian Whyte failed a drugs test with the Voluntary Anti-Doping Assocation (VADA) and while the Finnish boxer ensured the show would still go on, his aim now is to throw a spanner in the works for the home favourite.

The talk surrounding Joshua, like for many of his recent fights, is about what next and talks between his camp and Wilder’s team continue over a proposed clash at the end of this year or at the start of 2024.

An eagerly-anticipated future bout between two former world heavyweight champions will only happen if Joshua shuts out comparisons with Wilder to do the business against Helenius, who suffered a first-round knock-out to the American in October.

“I have to ignore it. It is one step at a time,” Joshua insisted when asked about ex-WBC belt holder Wilder.

“When I fought Jason Gavern, I knocked him out, Wilder took longer. When I fought Eric Molina, I knocked him out in three and Wilder took nine rounds.

“There will always be comparisons. This is my own fight with Helenius, no-one else’s. I can’t fail.”

Joshua has carried that win-at-all-costs mentality for a number of years, but it failed to prevent a shock loss in 2019 to Andy Ruiz Jr – who was also a late replacement for Jarrell Miller following a failed drugs test – and consecutive defeats to Oleksandr Usyk.

A laboured display on his way to a unanimous points victory against Jermaine Franklin in April got the Finchley boxer back on the comeback trail, but his preparation for this 29th contest of his career has been far from ideal.

Last weekend, Joshua trained knowing it could all be for nothing after he discovered on Saturday morning that Whyte had been pulled from the show but Friday’s fiery exchange with Helenius showed he is locked in.

Joshua tipped the scales at 17st and 12lbs, while Helenius was a pound lighter, before the duo exchanged words – with the British heavyweight inviting his veteran opponent to fight there and then instead of 24 hours later if he wished.

Even though Joshua will no longer being going head-to-head with old rival Whyte, he is adamant no stone has been left unturned during this second camp with trainer Derrick James.

He admitted: “There was one session where I was like, ‘what are we training for?’ We trained on Saturday and maybe then I felt what am I training for, but we just had to flip the coin.

“I could spend more time complaining about it, due to this late replacement whoever it might be, but I couldn’t put my energy into complaining. I had to change the script, change the screensaver on my phone.

“It’s me and (Wladimir) Klitschko now. Before it was me and Dillian at the weigh-in. I just wanted to visualise what my life’s focused on at the minute.”

Victory over Klitschko at a sold-out Wembley in 2017 helped Joshua reach the pinnacle of the sport and despite recent setbacks against Usyk, he is confident another shot at a world title will present itself.

Given Joshua turns 34 in October, it needs to be sooner rather than later, but he remains comfortable in his own skin after becoming only the ninth British heavyweight to become world champion – via a short spell in prison after a teenage life embroiled in drugs and crime in England’s capital.

“Can I be champion again? Yeah. Definitely. I don’t think it’s that hard to fight for one belt, but it’s challenging to unify that’s hard. The accumulation of belts takes years,” Joshua reflected.

“I was the champion. When you’re a champion, it’s deserved and I’m not the champion any more. It’s natural.

“It’s a building process. So, it’s back to the O2 and travelling around, hopefully fighting in different arenas, maybe Manchester (Arena) next.

“Once I fight the right people we could easily go back to a stadium. You know who these names are.

“Everyone loves a winner. Losers, especially in boxing, get no credibility. I never looked at it being about me. ‘Oh they love me’. No, they just loved the belt.

“I worked hard outside boxing to build my brand. I always believed it’s never just about boxing. You can’t let boxing define you. There has to be more to you.

“I thought I will always have my own identity as a person before I am identified as a champion.”

Anthony Joshua insists he is not going to “waste his time” waiting to fight Tyson Fury or Deontay Wilder as he prepares for a Dillian Whyte rematch next month.

After discussions over taking on Fury broke down, former world champion Joshua had been linked with a fight against Wilder in Saudi Arabia.

Joshua, though, will now face off against Whyte again, having defeated his rival in a British and Commonwealth title clash in December 2015 to avenge a defeat when they had met as amateurs.

The 33-year-old is continuing to build up his record again, having beaten Jermaine Franklin on points in April after suffering back-to-back defeats to Oleksandr Usyk, the unified champion who is set to face Britain’s Daniel Dubois in Poland next month.

“I’m definitely up for fighting,” Joshua told a press conference to preview the sold out fight at the O2 Arena.

“There are a lot of names in the division but at the same time look at what this (fight) creates, I’m a fighter but I understand the business as well.

“Wilder and them lot have been doing my head in for years, you’ve seen now the shenanigans in the heavyweight division – even with Fury, saying he was training for Usyk, you can see all the lies going on so I don’t waste my time with time wasters.

“I just want to fight, get on with it. I’m going to be 34 this year, let’s crack on while I’m here, I’m not going to waste my time waiting for people and chasing for people.

“Even from the amateurs you could see the trajectory I was on; ready to get down, ready to put my neck on the line and fight whoever and it is still like that.”

If Joshua comes through his rematch with Whyte, which will be shown live by broadcaster DAZN, he is then expected to go on to meet Wilder in another lucrative heavyweight showdown.

“This is a massive night for my career,” added Joshua.

“Dillian is a credible and solid opponent, I have an underlying respect for every man I get in the ring with. I could fight now, it is in my heart. I just want to fight.”

For Whyte, 35, it is a chance to level up with Joshua in the professional ring after beating the Olympic gold medallist in the amateurs.

He suggested such victories could be all that are left for him as he enters the twilight of his career, having already avenged a shock knockout defeat to Alexander Povetkin in 2020.

“I have had three losses, avenged one, if I get the other two (Joshua and Fury) I don’t care about boxing after that,” he said.

“We have both had three losses but we both have a lot of hunger so I can’t wait to get in there – I am hoping for the best version of him, I don’t worry about what people say. I am coming to fight and have nothing to lose.”

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