- Vows never to pull out of a fight again after spider bite prior to Derek Chisora, who remains a ‘live option’
- Names a four man shortlist to propel him back to back world title contention
- Believes he has too much for Oleksandr Usyk and would beat him
- Would park his ‘brotherly’ relationship with Tyson Fury if they met in the ring
- Says his upcoming fight against great rival Junior Fa is ‘do or die’ in bid to give ‘Matchroom the confidence’ – having signed him in 2019
- Reveals surgery on elbows recovering faster than before AJ fight in 2017
What names do you need to propel you back to the pinnacle of the sport?
“I need guys like Joe Joyce, Oleksandr Usyk; I need guys like Dillian Whyte; there’s still a possibility we can fight Derek Chisora. He’s coming off a loss but his career has been revived. I’ll fight anyone, I’ll fly to the UK or the US, or wherever when it’s safe to do so to get back to the top.
“Chisora is a live option. My health just declined and I was unable to make it that night but I’d love to put that right against Derek.
“It was the doctor who said we were not fit and able to fight Chisora, I was begging him to let me fight ‘please, please, please’. We could not move the date, Chisora found another opponent and it messed up everything for us because we were getting some good momentum.
What is your gut feeling for your next fight if you come through?
“My gut tells me it could possibly be Usyk or Joyce. My gut tells me when we get through this fight then it’s just a matter of getting the biggest fights. Usyk has really good movement and ring IQ, but If the opportunity arose I’d take that fight with both hands. With the movement and speed that I have I’d beat him, I’d be too much for him.
“Get through Junior Fa and I’d love the opportunity to fight Joe Joyce. He put on a great performance against Daniel Dubois; he showed good movement, good jab, lots of improvements and it would be a great fight.”
You have spoken about your close relationship with Tyson Fury – would you put that aside to fight if the opportunity came about?
Will Fury-AJ happen?
What’s at stake for you in your up-coming bout?
“There’s a lot at stake. It’s do or die if I want to become champion of the world again, or unified champion of the world it’s a must win for me. If I lose this fight it will take me a very, very long term to climb back up.
“I have to win and I have to look good. That will give Matchroom the confidence they’re signing the right guy. There’s a lot on the line and I’m excited.
“I want to make a statement in great fashion. People love to see great finishes. I won a lot of fights on points, but I need to be more aggressive, to show more hunger and go in there and dominate. That is the recipe: dominate, throw punches, let some bombs rips and take care of business. That’s the recipe to get another world title.
“I’ve fought a lot of top opposition and he hasn’t fought anything close. But styles make fights and I’m excited to see what he’s going to bring.”
You had surgery in December, how are the elbows and do you have full confidence in them?
“Tomorrow is the first day of sparring, testing out the elbows to see where we are at. We can see when i’m punching and when i’m training it’s not as bad as it was back in 2017. It’s pretty much nearly healed and recovered.
“I wouldn’t be going into the fight if I didn’t have full confidence in myself and my body and what I can do in the ring. I had surgery on the elbows before back in 2017 before the Joshua fight but I wasn’t as fit and I wasn’t as healthy as I am now – the recovery is a lot faster this time and I have full faith in my body.
“This is the first camp away from Vegas since I first started as a professional fighter. It’s been nice being home, I can see my kids and wife but I know I have to get the job done and we’ll put things in place to keep me focused. We’ve got a good setup here.
“The biggest disadvantage is finding sparring partners that are able to spar like the opponent you’re going to fight. The good thing about Vegas is that it’s the hub of boxing, lots of fighters and sparring partners. It’s not as easy in New Zealand.”