LONDON, United Kingdom (AFP) — Anthony Joshua is “ready for war” as the British boxer prepares to face Kubrat Pulev in a world heavyweight title clash on Saturday.
Joshua will be back in the ring for the first time in 12 months — since he outpointed Andy Ruiz Jr. in Saudi Arabia to regain the World Boxing Association, World Boxing Organization and International Boxing Federation belts he lost to the same opponent at Madison Square Garden in June 2019.
A planned bout between Joshua and the 39-year-old Pulev — the mandatory challenger for Joshua’s IBF title — was postponed due to the coronavirus in June.
The Bulgarian was previously due to face the former Olympic champion in 2017 but withdrew with an injury.
A crowd of 1,000 will be at the fight at London’s Wembley Arena after nationwide COVID-19 lockdown rules were relaxed by the government.
Joshua, 31, entered a bio-secure bubble on Tuesday and told Sky Sports: “My body is just a vessel that carries my brain, so I have trained my brain more than I have trained my body.”
“I am ready for war. I am ready for a fight and looking forward to it.”
Joshua said it would be an “intimate” occasion, with so few fans present.
“It will be a special occasion to witness a world heavyweight champion fight amongst 1,000 people,” he said.
“Normally there would be tens of thousands of people in an arena, but there are a lucky 1,000 people in there, so hopefully they get to enjoy it.”
However, Pulev is confident he can derail plans for a future all-British undisputed heavyweight showdown between Joshua and Tyson Fury, believing he can expose his opponent’s flaws.
“We see a lot of mistakes from Anthony,” said Pulev, who boasts a 28-1 record. “A lot of bad sides to him. I think these mistakes, and the bad sides, stay.
“The most important thing is how I perform on Saturday night. When I am good, I beat him well. Right now I feel very good, strong and powerful.”
Pulev, whose only defeat came in a world title fight against Wladimir Klitschko in 2014, said the bout with Joshua was a chance to give Bulgaria a world heavyweight champion.
“This fight is not only for me,” Pulev said.
“This fight isn’t just for boxing. It is for all of Bulgaria. Nobody from my country has ever been heavyweight champion of the world.”
Already looking ahead to a future fight against World Boxing Council belt holder Fury, Pulev added: “I think after this fight I’m going to fight with Tyson Fury.”
“It will be good. I don’t believe that the Joshua versus Fury fight is going to happen because I will win on Saturday night.”