Monday 27 January 2020

'I went through a rough patch' - Anthony Joshua speaks about his battle with anxiety after Andy Ruiz Jr defeat

DIRIYAH, SAUDI ARABIA - DECEMBER 07: Anthony Joshua celebrates victory over Andy Ruiz Jr during the IBF, WBA, WBO & IBO World Heavyweight Title Fight between Andy Ruiz Jr and Anthony Joshua during the Matchroom Boxing 'Clash on the Dunes' show at the Diriyah Season on December 07, 2019 in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
DIRIYAH, SAUDI ARABIA - DECEMBER 07: Anthony Joshua celebrates victory over Andy Ruiz Jr during the IBF, WBA, WBO & IBO World Heavyweight Title Fight between Andy Ruiz Jr and Anthony Joshua during the Matchroom Boxing 'Clash on the Dunes' show at the Diriyah Season on December 07, 2019 in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

Anthony Joshua has revealed he had to deal with mental demons ahead of his world heavyweight title re-match with Andy Ruiz Jr last month, as he conceded his defeat against the Mexican last year forced him to confront self-doubts like never before.

Joshua lost his heavyweight titles in a shock defeat against Ruiz last June and ahead of his second fight against the same opponent in Saudi Arabia last month, he admits he faced a mental as well as a physical battle to get himself into shape.

The British fighter won a unanimous points decision to be crowned as world heavyweight champion once again, but he told Sky Sports' new podcast Sidelines that he sought help with his mental approach after Ruiz inflicted the first defeat of his career on him.

"I now understand that the good has to come with the bad," stated Joshua.

"It can't be sunshine forever, there have to be stormy times as well. I went through a rough patch but I dealt with it, and it taught me a lot.

"You need to absorb as much information as you can. Learn to be an outgoing person so people give you information.

"Information is key - it used to be reserved for kings and queens but now we have access. Absorb that. It will help you in that anxiety moment because subconsciously there might be one piece of information that gets you through.

"If you're someone who makes decisions by yourself, trust in your ability and instinct. The mind will play tricks but you have to take control and trust your gut instinct.

"I listen to a lot of talks or podcasts with insight into how to be strong and stay focused and channel my emotions. I am a sponge that absorbs.

"Every morning and when I get ready for bed. It plays in the background so subconsciously I take in the information."

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Andy Ruiz Jr knocks down Anthony Joshua in the third round during their heavyweight title fight. Photo: Al Bello/Getty Images

Joshua conceded he feels pressure to be a role model to his fans and to live up to the hype around him, as he suggested he battles with anxiety inside and out of the ring.

"I don't want to be remembered for 10 years then fade out," he added. "I want to make a mark on eternity.

"Be dedicated to yourself. That's not about boxing. Have I read? Have I educated myself? Once I've ticked those boxes I can walk into work and perform.

"But then you get to the fight and sometimes you think; what if I turned around and said: 'I can't do this?' Everybody is there. The opponent is in the ring.

"You've come too far, so you have to just deal with the anxiety. Once you walk down that path you have burned the bridge behind you, so you might as well dominate.

"It's like being at Alton Towers theme park. You have joined the queue to go on the ride and when you walk to the ring, you have to go through with it."

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