Anthony Joshua says he won’t be swayed by critics ahead of his bout against Russia’s Alexander Povetkin at Wembley Stadium on Saturday, but rather he calls on the public to support him as a “person” rather than a boxer.
Joshua, 28, defends his WBA, WBO, IBF, and IBO world titles against Povetkin with fans critical that a bout with WBC champion Deontay Wilder did not materialise.
“I can’t please everyone anymore, so I get that and so it’s my game now,” Joshua told BBC Sport.
“I’m having fun with it. I did 16 fights and went in for a world title, three years an amateur and went and won the Olympics, unified the heavyweight division, and it’s still not good enough.
“Either I get stronger from it or I get drained by it. I think I am getting stronger from it as it builds up a thicker skin.
“Get behind me as a person rather than a boxer. If you support me, support me as a person for life but if you’re with me just for boxing, when it’s going good you’ll be there but if it’s bad you will not.
Joshua also rates Povetkin, a 2004 Olympic gold medallist, as his third-toughest challenge as a professional, after Wladimir Klitschko and Joseph Parker.
“Parker came as a champion, so I have to give him that champion’s respect, so I’d put him two and Povetkin three.”
“He’s a gold medallist, been in the game a long time, he’s very experienced and has a great knockout threat.
“I’m going in there to spark him out. Go in there, keep a tight guard, don’t give him any openings and then whip him around the head and body. He’s 39 so he won’t be able to take that pressure to the body.”
Povetkin twice was convicted of doping – has only been beaten once in his 35-fight career, and that loss was to Wladimir Klitschko in 2013.