Anthony Joshua reveals major change he has made ahead of Jermaine Franklin fight

Anthony Joshua says he has made a ‘conscious decision’ to get rid of distractions around him as he seeks to relaunch a world title bid against Jermaine Franklin.

The former Olympian lost his IBF, WBO and WBA heavyweight titles to Oleksandr Usyk in 2021, losing a rematch to the Ukrainian last August in what was his third defeat in his last five fights.

He returns to the ring on 1 April to take on Franklin having once again made changes to his team, enlisting the services of 2022 Trainer of the Year Derrick James to oversee fight camp ahead of that clash at the O2 Arena in London.

But the biggest changes have come outside the ring. During his reigns as world champion, Joshua was one of sport’s most prominent faces, signing deals with brands including Beats, Jaguar Land Rover and Hugo Boss among others.

But speaking at a press conference on Thursday, Joshua explained he has now distanced himself from certain business ventures in order to press the reset button and ensure his heart is back in boxing.  

‘So many fighters go to the gym every day but there is a difference when you put your heart into it,’ Joshua said.

‘I have had to get rid of a lot of distractions in my life and things so I can put my heart back into the game.

‘I have always built businesses outside of boxing because of the fear of going back to square one. So I have tried to build an empire so when it is all said and done I won’t look back and say I have made stupid decisions.

‘But I made a conscious decision last year to step back and put my heart into boxing and nothing else. I have got that fire going again.’

Joshua continued: ‘It’s like being in a relationship, if your heart ain’t in it, it is no good, you just wake up with your partner every morning but if your heart is in it is a different type of relationship.

‘So with that being said, the relationship you have with your job, the relationship a fighter has with their sport, they need to have their heart in it if they want to get to the top.’

Joshua flew back to the UK from Texas to attend Thursday’s press event, sat alongside his new trainer James who is the only trainer in boxing who coaches two unified world champions in Errol Spence Jr and Jermell Charlo.

The two will have had three months together away from home comforts in James’ gym in the US by the time fight night rolls around with the 51-year-old already pleased with the work they have done.

‘It is about Anthony Joshua being the fighter he wants to be,’ James said.

‘It is about him, his legacy. At the same time, we are building for him to be the best version of himself he can be. Three months isn’t a lot of time but it depends on what level you work on and we are working on a high level and he is doing everything I have asked him to do.’

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