Anthony Joshua will not be happy with his boxing legacy should he fail to become a world champion once again.
In one of the biggest upsets in the sport’s history, the 30-year-old lost his WBA, IBF & WBO world heavyweight titles when he was dropped and stopped by underdog Andy Ruiz Jr in June.
The pair are set for their rematch in Saudi Arabia in just over two weeks time on 7 December, and regaining the belts he lost in Madison Square Garden is the only thing on the British heavyweight’s mind.
“I don’t think I would be content if I don’t win the titles,” Joshua told the BBC. “For me as a man it means more than anything.”
Asked whether his legacy hinges on the result of the rematch with Ruiz, AJ said: “When it’s all said and done and I hang up my gloves, that’s when we can have the debate about legacy.”
Already a one-time world heavyweight champion, Joshua said he wouldn’t be content ending his career there, wanting to reclaim his titles.
“I’ll beat Andy next time,” he added. “You’ll be asking me a whole heap of different questions on December 8th.”
Joshua says his first career defeat at the hands of the Mexican-American was down to a lack of experience and nothing to do with the many conspiracy theories that came about after his stunning defeat.
“It wasn’t burnout,” he said. “The issues I faced in the last camp, it’s just down to lack of experience.”
“Even though it was at a high level, we were still finding experience.”
Ruiz was selected at just five-weeks notice for the first fight, was abused because of his shape and dismissed. During the week nobody outside of Ruiz’s tiny entourage thought that he could triumph.
Joshua seems more focused now, more serious. He has become a ‘smarter’ fighter ahead of their fiercely anticipated rematch and he believes he will be regaining his titles.
“Andy Ruiz is good but I don’t think he should beat me twice.
“I used to hear guys say you have to take a loss and I would think ‘why?’
“Now I can understand it and know what it takes. I have more understanding now and my ears are open to new information so that is making me smarter as a fighter. Anyone can be hungrier, I am smarter.
“The blessing is I have a second chance and here we are.”
Both are fearless, both have something to prove and both have prepared very differently to the first fight.
Joshua confirmed he had brought in a number of top-quality sparring partners to test him, including former world title contenders Dereck Chisora and Bryant Jennings, as well as the cruiserweight Andrew Tabiti to try to replicate Ruiz’s style.
“I feel like sparring has added a different element of preparation for this fight,” AJ added. “Last time let’s say I didn’t invest in the sparring I need.”
Joshua was shocked by the devastating speed of Ruiz in New York, he looks trimmer, but said he wasn’t focussed on what the scales read.
“I am not really focused on my weight, I am just focused on my sparring. Everyone in the team has different opinions on my weight but I like going off of my sparring.”
Manny Robles, the coach in Ruiz’s corner confirmed that his training camp for the rematch was going to be harder.
“You are going to see a better, faster and slimmer Andy Ruiz. He knows that one win is not enough – he has to get in the ring and win again. He has to prove now that he is a real champion.”
There will be no shortage of shocks before the winner has his hand raised, but whose will it be?