Joshua Admits Focus Is on Ngannou Rather Than Possible Future Clash With Fury-Usyk Winner

Anthony Joshua insisted he is refusing to get distracted by the prospect of fighting the winner of the undisputed heavyweight title fight between Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk.

The 34 year old, on Friday in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, fights Francis Ngannou in the knowledge that with victory he could secure what could even prove his defining night.

Joshua’s career has never again rediscovered the heights he relished in 2017, when he retired the great Wladimir Klitschko. Fury’s comeback in 2018 and the defeats since inflicted by Andy Ruiz Jr and Oleksandr Usyk have undermined his reputation, and while his status can be enhanced with a more convincing victory over Ngannou than that recorded by Fury, it will reach a new low in the event of defeat.

Victory over Fury — the favourite against Usyk at the same venue on May 18 — would perhaps even compensate for the two previously inflicted by Usyk, but Joshua largely refused to talk about anything other than Friday’s fight.

“We’re not looking past this fight,” he said. “This is my main focus. The incentives and all that stuff — is just to win. That’s it. Focus on my game plan and what I’ve gotta do.

“We’re happy. Straight out war. Relentlessness. A good fight. That’s what everyone’s here for.

“I’m getting paid for this [laughs].”

Fury revealed before Wednesday’s press conference the plans that exist for after his two overdue fights with Usyk. Before Joshua spoke, Ngannou, 37, allowed himself to discuss the prospect of a rematch with Fury, and even to have an exchange with him when Fury chose to interrupt.

Joshua, in contrast, kept his earphones in until his time arrived to answer questions. He had missed Frank Warren being introduced to the strains of James Brown’s The Boss immediately after the arrival of Eddie Hearn, and then showed so little interest in answering questions that Ngannou instead paid greater attention to his earphones.

“His first dream was to be a boxer, which people forget,” Joshua said of his opponent after questioning the “big deal” about his taste in music. “He was part of the Cameroonian team.

“I know what I’m up against. I look at all these small details.

“All that textbook stuff goes out the window.

“It’s already written in the stars what’s gonna happen. I’m just gonna follow my destiny.

“I feel the pressure. But that’s the life. That’s what I signed up to do.

“I’ve been in the ring with [sat nearby Joseph] Parker. I’ll share the ring with Francis. One day I’ll share the ring with Tyson. I’ve shared the ring with [Otto] Wallin. I signed to fight ‘Bronze Bomber’ [Deontay Wilder]. I’m serious about what I do.

“It’s my duty to work for these guys and give them entertainment.

“The best man will always win. It’s not rocket science. One of the main things I’m looking forward to is showing how good I am.

“I’m looking forward to the occasion.”