British boxer Anthony Joshua insisted he would “fight King Kong” if it was required, before his world heavyweight title fight against Oleksandr Usyk at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on London.
Usyk is a former undisputed world cruiserweight champion and the Ukrainian’s overall skills, including outstanding footwork and blurring hand speed, are rated among the best in boxing in any division.
The pair were brought together following the collapse of Joshua’s all-British contest against Tyson Fury, with the Watford fighter then ordered by the WBO to fulfil his mandatory obligation against the southpaw.
Joshua, though, says he welcomes the challenge of defending his WBA, IBF and WBO crowns against all comers.
“If you tell me I was fighting King Kong I would give it a go. This is my job,” said Joshua, 31.
“I wasn't on the amateur scene long enough to know much about Oleksandr, but when I turned professional I did a lot of research and I love the Ukrainian style and the Ukrainian people.
“He was fighting 10 or 12 years as an amateur before he went to the Olympics and worlds, so he is probably happy to be in this position. The cream always rises to the top.
“I love throwback fighters. I do watch a lot of boxing and I don't fight good people just to get respect. I'm going to work. It's the best days of my life.”
After memorably claiming Olympic gold nine years ago, Joshua rose quickly through the paid ranks and won his first world title after just 16 fights — although he believes he is still capable of refining his skills.
Indeed, he revealed he has enjoyed the incremental improvements he has made since first stepping through the ropes and intends to return to training next Monday or Tuesday.
“I’m not an easy fight for anyone,” he added. “I like fighting, God has blessed me and showed me the path to get into boxing. It has to be a reason why I’m here, it’s been quick. I'm still getting better
“I like the challenges because I was training, come back three months later and beat the guys up who were giving me problems. I’d fight, if I lost I’d come back again.
“This fight gives me the motivation to practice. I’ve had fun in camp, it’s been demanding and challenging but we make it fun because it’s practice. When you can see improvements like a dog or a baby and you praise them, they want to do more and I want to give more and more each day.”
While Joshua came dressed in a tracksuit and cap, Usyk, 34, was in a garish three-piece red suit with a yellow tie. The fighters had a friendly handshake before the press conference and after an intense, but uneventful, staredown.
Usyk, speaking through a translator, said: "Every fight makes history and I think me and Anthony will make another step in history, something that people will be talking about, remember and will be watching on television."