Anthony Joshua MBE says his injury layoff has made him even hungrier for success as he returns to action against Jason Gavern at the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle on Saturday night, live on Sky Sports.
A stress fracture of the back forced Joshua out of his January bout with Kevin ‘Kingpin’ Johnson, and the Olympic gold medal hero said it was tough not to capitalise on his rapid progress following another brutal KO win over Michael Sprott in Liverpool in November, but the 25 year old says he will be back and better than ever in the north east.
“I was on a roll and there was great momentum, but I think I can pick that up again,” said Joshua. “I wanted to fight but people were telling me not to and of course they were right. It will be great to fight in another massive city in the UK. I expect the atmosphere is going to be fantastic, the fans up there love their sport and I am really looking forward to doing my thing for them.
“It was going on since October but Heavyweights have big muscles to support your bones, so when it happened the muscles tensed up around the bone when I was training. I took two weeks off after the Sprott fight, the muscles relaxed and I didn’t realise it was a bone injury, I thought it was the muscle that was hurting. I got it checked and they said it was a stress fracture. I wanted to carry on training but had I done that it would have got worse and it could have even turned into a chronic injury.
“You have to have great rehabilitation with an injury like that, with the best physios, doctors and medical advice you can get, I was able to tick over in an altitude centre and swimming for my core to make sure I didn’t get too heavy. I got back in the gym ahead of schedule but an injury that could have been a chronic one has been solved by eight weeks of rest.
“It’s not frustrating because when things are going well, there are always going to be hiccups. I had a broken hand and that healed up 100 per cent, the fractured back has healed up too – these things are going to happen, it’s how you deal with them, you have to stay positive, be smart, listen to the advice of the medial experts and pick up the momentum again and continue on the path I am on.
“My route is set up and it’s simple. I have been through my hard road and now the path is pretty clear. The pressure to be great, saying I can be the next this and that, or saying that I can’t, it’s just fuel to my fire. I want to be successful to thank those people that have helped me and backed me, and to those that doubt me I would want to say think twice before you think your opinion is fact. Life in general is hard and there are people out there with real problems, so the pressure I feel is nothing.”
Joshua’s clash with Gavern is part of a big night of action in Newcastle where South Shield’s Anthony Nelson faces Dundee’s Jamie Wilson for the vacant Commonwealth Super Flyweight title.
Local favourite Jon-Lewis Dickinson challenges Stephen Simmons for the Scotsman’s WBC International Silver Cruiserweight title, and there’s a family feel on the bill with Jon-Lewis’ brother Travis in action.
Jeff Saunders makes his pro debut and there’s a host of unbeaten local talent on the bill with unbeaten Cruiserweight Simon Vallily, Light Heavyweight Jordan King, plus a debut for Lewis Ritson and a second pro outing for Scotland’s Commonwealth gold medallist Charlie Flynn.
Tickets are on sale now priced £40, £60 and £100 from the Metro Radio Arena at www.metroradioarena.co.uk and on 0844 493 6666.