Anthony Joshua has delivered the first knock-out punch of fight week by telling his critics to speak to him face-to-face.
The British heavyweight will begin his road back to the top against Jermaine Franklin at the O2 Arena on Saturday eager to win again after consecutive defeats to Oleksandr Usyk.
Joshua has faced plenty of criticism since the second and third losses of his career but insisted responding to “clowns” is not his motivation ahead of this weekend.
While the 33-year-old did not name any pundits and former or current professionals, only choosing to reference the subject of the question Carl Froch, he did poke fun at the two-faced nature of the sport.
“I was talking to my cousin about it and I just think these people don’t get me, they’re not on my wavelength,” Joshua explained.
“I don’t use boxing as a platform to rant and rave and disrespect my opponents, or act a certain way to prove I am a certain way.
“These people that talk about me are looking for me to say something back but I don’t have much to say because these people are not on my level.
“What do I want to entertain a clown for? That’s what it is. If someone has got something to say to me, they can call me, they have my number.
“I don’t need to go online and voice my opinions on my enemies, I prefer to be silent. If I have something to say about you, you will see me face-to-face.
“I will not go online and do it from behind a camera. And when these people see you, at a press conference or whatever, they go, ‘AJ, how are you mate?’. How does that work?
“When it was Froch, I messaged him direct and said, ‘What you talking s*** about me for? Message me’.
“With (Amir) Khan and that s*** with his missus (Faryal Makhdoom), why was he going online? Just message me if you have something to say.
“I just find it awkward because my background, where I come from, it’s not about chasing clout, it is about results.”
Joshua has a similar philosophy about ex-trainer Robert Garcia, who has been critical of the professionalism of the two-time world heavyweight champion since their split.
He added: “When it comes to your head coach, I think it is important to keep things in-house, especially when you are talking about your fighters.
“There are things I didn’t like about some of my old coaches that I could talk about but I don’t. No-one is perfect but, when you come together in arms to go to war, there should be a level of respect.
“I have worked with Sean Murphy and John Oliver in the amateurs, all the GB coaches, Tony Sims and Rob McCracken in the pros, Angel Fernandez, Joby Clayton, Robert Garcia and Derrick James and Garcia is the first one to say the things he said and I didn’t like that, I found it weird.
“I am not perfect, trust me I do have tough days in camp but he went and pointed those things out, out of all the things we did in training camp.”
Speculation over Joshua’s future has rumbled on since his second loss to Usyk in August and debate continues over what would come next if another defeat occurred on Saturday.
But the Finchley boxer insisted: “It is the worst time to face me.
“The more he talks, the bigger grave he digs for himself but it is what it is.
“I am prepared for a 12-rounder but I do believe in my ability, my counter-punching and all that type of stuff to definitely put a dent in Jermaine.
“But I am not here to talk, I am here to do what I have to do.”
Franklin lost narrowly to Dillian Whyte at Wembley Arena in November but juggled preparing for that fight with work commitments and promised a better version to walk out at the O2 Arena.
He said: “In the beginning I was on a health journey, changed my habits, changed stuff I was consuming and my body weight has just started falling off.
“I’m more ready, I’m more in shape and I’m ready to let the fireworks go.
“I will get the win by any means possible, but if I can put him on his a***, that’s what I’m going to do.
“Anything is possible. I come from a place where there are not a lot of possibilities and I made it this far so anything is possible.”
Enjoy the convenience of having The Sunday Post delivered as a digital ePaper straight to your smartphone, tablet or computer.
Subscribe for only £5.49 a month and enjoy all the benefits of the printed paper as a digital replica.Subscribe