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When I first started as a professional, I used to train in Eddie Hearn’s back garden. I didn’t even have a gym to go.
I’d be driving all over the place, from Eddie’s place up to Sheffield to train there and then to Finchley, all the time trying to talk to everyone to try to make a name in this business.
The Tokyo Olympics brought that back to me a little bit and those early days of turning pro, which some of the other British boxers will be going through now.
I still see a lot of them in training now. Take gold medallist Galal Yafai. Because he’s at a lighter weight, he’d be training earlier in Sheffield than me before Tokyo. When I used to get to the gym later on, he’d just be sitting there on the edge of the ring.
I’d ask him how he was feeling and he’d say “I’m f*****”. It was funny but it’s worked, he’s got that gold medal and it shows that hard work pays off. Those days of being tired, fatigued, they really paid off.
Those guys inspire me – all of them from Galal to Lauren Price, Ben Whittaker, everyone - and it reminds me of my own journey from the amateur ranks to Eddie’s back garden and now this coming Saturday night where I’ll be boxing for 60,000 people inside Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. It shows what hard graft can bring.
The stadium’s going to be absolutely rocking. It’s the biggest fight this country’s seen in a long time and London deserves it. I’m not a big football fan but I’ve got to say it’s a phenomenal stadium. I went there earlier in the summer, climbed up on the roof and looked down picturing what it’d be like on fight night.
I love fighting in new places. The O2 was my home, then Wembley and, after that, the Principality Stadium. This weekend, that home’s Tottenham.
My opponent Oleksandr Usyk is the real deal and what I like about him is that, unlike others, he’s not afraid to take this fight. He wants it, he’s confident, his team are confident and he believes he can do something special. But I’m still the heavyweight champion of the world and I’m ready to show I’m a completely different ball game to anything he’s faced before.
There’s been a lot of talk about who I’m not fighting, Tyson Fury. I would have loved to have got that fight on earlier in the year and it was close – and I know we’ll get there one day – but Usyk’s the target now and this is a big, big fight.
Is it the toughest fight of my career? I don’t know. It could be, it depends what he’s got and if he goes at it.
He actually reminds me of myself when I took on Wladimir Klitshcko. People said I wasn’t ready, it was too early in my career for such a fight but that was the chance to beat the champ. And that was my toughest fight to put an end to his 10-year reign.
We’ve spoken before this fight but he tells me he’s not taking sides. Now it’s up to me to put on a show against another Ukrainian.
But really I don’t mind who I fight: Usyk, Fury, Deontay Wilder, Dillian Whyte. I like my boxing history and I’m a throwback fighter who’ll fight anyone that’s put in front of me. And this is a big fight, with or without belts on the line.
People have been talking a lot about my weight for this weekend but I’m not sure what the fuss is about. I’ve just been focusing on this fight, what I need to do to get it done and shipping in the southpaws for a lot of sparring has been the answer.
And don’t worry, the power’s still there. You’ll see it on Saturday night when I put on a show.
Anthony Joshua v Oleksandr Usyk is on Sky Sports Box Office on Saturday night