Anthony Joshua has never been more confident that his best years are ahead.
The claim will likely be met with a collective eye roll but the former two-time unified heavyweight titlist is brimming with confidence in what has become his most active ring campaign in seven years. Watford’s Joshua is set for his third fight of 2023, which will come versus Sweden’s Otto Wallin on December 23 at Kingdom Arena in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
“This isn’t a one-stop shop. There’s a road map with check points,” Joshua said of the upcoming crossroads bout. “This isn’t my final destination; this is my first stop. December 23 I’ll deliver that message. I’ll be on my way to bigger and better in 2024. I’m fully focused on this fight.
“I’m determined to win and determined to get back to my peak, if that’s what they want to call it.”
Joshua (26-3, 22KOs) vowed all year to fight as often as possible, to rebuild towards a third heavyweight title run. He entered 2023 on the heels of back-to-back defeats to Oleksandr Usyk (21-0, 14KOs), first to end his WBA, IBF and WBO title reign in September 2021 and again in their rematch last August in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
Two wins have since followed, both on home soil including a seventh-round knockout of Robert Helenius on August 12 at The O2 in London.
Joshua will return to Saudi Arabia for the first time since the repeat loss to Usyk. The nation has also been kind to his career; it was where he regained his unified heavyweight titles in a December 2019 points win over Andy Ruiz to avenge his first pro defeat six months prior to their rematch.
It will now host possibly his next few fights. It is widely believed that Joshua’s placement on the December 23 super show—which also features Deontay Wilder-Joseph Parker and four other heavyweight fights—is part of a multi-fight deal. It is further speculated that wins by Joshua and Wilder will set up a potential two-fight series between the pair of former heavyweight titlsts.
Joshua and Wallin are also ranked high enough by the IBF to where the winner could challenge for the vacant title should it become available sometime after the undisputed heavyweight championship between Usyk and lineal/WBC champ Tyson Fury (34-0-1, 24KOs) on February 17 also in Saudi Arabia.
“I can’t predict the future but I know what I where I want to go and what I want to do,” stated Joshua, who was noncommittal on future plans beyond the Wallin fight. “I set out with a plan of what I wanted to do this year.
“I’m sticking to that plan. I’m a man of word. I stand firm on what I believe and I believe I’m going to be a three-time heavyweight champion of the world. My first stop to that is put on a demolishing job against Otto Wallin.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox