ANTHONY JOSHUA insists a third world title reign remains his dream despite turning down a Christmas crack at Tyson Fury.
After 33-year-old Olympic legend AJ suffered a second consecutive loss to Oleksandr Usyk, in August, mastermind WBC champ Fury made him a short-notice offer for a December showdown.
Joshua wisely turned down the Battle of Britain – leaving the 34-year-old Gypsy King to batter stablemate and friend Derek Chisora toward retirement – to rebuild his career again.
The two-time heavyweight boss has been on another US tour looking for a new trainer and is expected to return in April against a couple of tune-up opponents.
After back-to-back defeats, the idea of a Spring stunner with American KO artist Deontay Wilder is utterly fanciful – even at this time of year.
But the Watford ace has at least promised a third world title run is his New Year’s resolution.
“I like to see my name constantly mentioned amongst other fighters,” he said.
“The opportunities are always there for me, there are big opportunities to fight.
“I’ll fight whoever’s ready, I’m ready and we’ll get cracking in the New Year.
“I want to be consistent, be fit to fight, and everything comes off the back of that.
“I’m dying for the world championship, 100 per cent. That’s all my heart and soul is leading towards.”
After the second Usyk loss, AJ grabbed the microphone and got about a decade’s worth of passion and emotion off of his giant chest.
In the post-fight press conference, he broke down in tears when trying to explain the pressure of carrying a nation’s expectations into the ring.
With Fury and Usyk now to clash to decide an undisputed ruler and a long lost of mandatory lining up after that – which doesn’t include AJ – he has had to reevaluate his career.
“I lost a fight this year which took me out of the championship title race,” he said.
“So when you’re constantly fighting for championships after championships you’re constantly in the race for a long time.
“When I lost, I was finally out of the race and overcoming that was a new beginning, something I’ve been used to, being in the title race for seven years and then finally realising that this isn’t my norm anymore.
“It’s challenging to overcome that.
“I’ve always been a competitor, a challenge to me is just another obstacle that I can get over, and for some, I feel like it’s easier to knock them down and keep them down
“But as a competitor, it’s just something that you look at as another challenge that I can overcome.
“It’s going to take work, being in that race I’m used to being in that competitor’s mindset, but I’m overcoming it for sure.
Joshua was little more than a passenger when Ukraine icon Usyk outpointed him for the first time, in September 2021, at Tottenham.
But he put in a drastically improved performance in the Saudi Arabia rerun and restored much of his reputation by being aggressive until the final bell.
The London 2012 hero suggests it’s a new approach he will use on both sides of the ropes from now on.
He said: “If you’re someone that doesn’t like confrontation, but you know that being shy and timid doesn’t get you what you want, sometimes you have to be confrontational to get what you want.
“I am someone now, this year, that would go after what I want and to get what I want I need to be the person I need to be.
“Being more confident in myself, being more confrontational with things, and being honest with people so they know who you are and what you stand for.
“Love me for it, or hate me for it, I’m quite content with who I am.”
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