Anthony Joshua insisted Friday he was completely focused on beating Otto Wallin rather than worrying what the outcome of the bout in Saudi Arabia might mean for his future in heavyweight boxing.
The 34-year-old Englishman will be bidding for his third win from as many bouts in 2023 when he faces Swedish southpaw Wallin in Riyadh on Saturday. The fight has potentially major consequences for the two-time former world champion’s career.
Joshua, who beat Jermaine Franklin Jr by unanimous decision in April before a seventh-round stoppage success against Robert Helenius in August, said after Friday’s weigh-in: “If my prayers are answered, I’ll get the win.
“I’ve been focused, praying hard and whatever God wants from me, I’m going to follow that path. I’m making sure it’s not just prayer. I’m following up by action as well.”
There has long been talk that Joshua could face another former world champion in Deontay Wilder — who takes on Joseph Parker on the same bill Saturday.
But Joshua said: “Without Saturday night there is no future. Saturday night, I’ve been saying all week, is my main focus. Whatever happens in the ring, I know that’s where my heart is. I need to get this win.”
Joshua has won 25 professional fights with three career losses, having suffered a shock defeat by Andy Ruiz in 2019 before going down twice to current world champion Oleksandr Usyk.
He weighed in Friday at 251 pounds compared to Wallin’s 238.6 pounds.
Wallin’s only professional defeat so far came against Tyson Fury, the World Boxing Council heavyweight champion.
“I’m a small fighter. I’m a southpaw,” said Wallin. “I’ve trained for this moment for a very long time so I’m very much ready for it. I know tomorrow there’s going to be a new king and he’s from Sweden.”
For the other showpiece event of the bill, Wilder weighed in at 213 pounds compared to Parker’s 245.3 pounds.
Wilder, twice beaten by Fury, said: “I’m just this calm and collected.”
The American added: “I’ve been here many times before and I’ve fought his (Parker’s) style before. He’s never fought a style like mine. He’s never felt the power that I bring and possess.”