Anthony Joshua has again stirred up the rivalry with fellow Brit Dillian Whyte, by claiming he once 'hated' the man who he has fought in both the amateur and professional ranks.
Despite losing to Joshua in December 2015, Whyte’s stock has since been on the rise and his one-sided victory over the highly-fancied Australian Lucas Browne at the O2 in March has put him firmly back in Joshua’s firing line.
'The Bodysnatcher' now finds himself eying up an eliminator fight with Kubret Pulev, as he looks to become the mandatory challenger to face Joshua for his IBF belt.
Joshua obviously still sees the defeat to Whyte back in their amateur days as a pivotal moment in his boxing career, and has admitted before that he’s used it as a source of motivation.
AJ has also expressed a desire to face Whyte in the ring numerous more times before they both retire, although he doesn't think there will be as much bitterness between them from now on.
”It's weird, it's not that I hate Dillian anymore," Joshua said, as per The Express.
"I respect him as a fighter, I respect the way he's come back because boxing is a sport that is a game of snakes and ladders. One loss and you're straight back down the pile.
"You take a loss and it will stay on your record for eternity. You could win 100 fights but you'll always have that one on your record, he's done well to get the respect of the people and showed he can be a top contender.”
As Joshua eyes up a potential super fight with WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder, he highlighted the extreme differences between the slug fests against Whyte and Klitschko and his recent more conventional boxing victory over former WBO champ Joseph Parker.
“With or without Dillian, I still would have gone on and tried to achieve things,” he added.
"But you need dance partners and with Dillian and myself, we're not shy of a challenge”.
"I look back at that fight and the Klitschko fight, and I step back and analyse it now I'm more comfortable in the ring. I think 'how did I go through those type of wars?'
"It must have been really entertaining for everyone. That's why when I went in with Parker I thought 'I'm just going to control this geezer on the end of my jab' rather than turning it into a complete all-out brawl.”
Whether he would go into the fight with Wilder with the same tactics remains to be seen, but judging by the American’s record, slow and steady jabs aren’t likely to be the order of the day.
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