Anthony Joshua says he is prepared for his heavyweight title fight against Kubrat Pulev on Saturday to go to the “final bell” as he returns to the ring after a 12-month absence.
The British boxer will be in action for the first time since he outpointed Andy Ruiz Jr in Saudi Arabia to regain the WBA, WBO and IBF belts he lost to the same opponent at Madison Square Garden in June 2019.
Joshua, 31, was due to face Pulev in 2017 but a shoulder injury forced the Bulgarian to pull out.
And a planned bout in June between the former Olympic champion and the 39-year-old — the mandatory challenger for Joshua’s IBF title — was postponed due to the coronavirus.
But now they will finally go toe-to-toe in front of 1,000 spectators at Wembley Arena.
“The pressure I went through was tough mentally, but it has given me thicker skin,” Joshua said. “I want to be successful in boxing and that is why I fight the top fighters.”
The Briton said he was ready to take punches and go all 12 rounds if needed to ensure he took his record to 24-1 on Saturday.
“I have been punched by the strongest people many times and I am still here today,” he said.
“Just because I took a loss to Ruiz, that is not enough to change me because I have character. I will definitely get hit and he will definitely get hit and it will be about the last man standing.
“I am prepared for it to go to the final bell, I feel I am a 15-round fighter and if it needs to go 12, I am ready.”
Pulev said he had been waiting for his moment to fight Joshua after he was denied a world title shot in 2017 when he suffered a shoulder injury in training ahead of the scheduled fight in Cardiff.
The Bulgarian’s only defeat came in a world title fight against Wladimir Klitschko in 2014.
“I’m ready for this fight. We spend a long time waiting because 2017 I had a problem and that is why I tell my trainer we must go for the win,” he said.
“That is why I said ‘let’s not fight now (in 2017)’ because I believed this fight would come again one day and I’m here now, ready to fight good and ready to win.”