Anthony Joshua still remembers chastening amateur days; opponent to go back to teaching after bout

Anthony Joshua still remembers chastening amateur days; opponent to go back to teaching after bout

Anthony Joshua can still recall the culture shock of walking into the GB Boxing gym for the first time as an impressionable amateur ill-equipped to begin a journey which would sweep him to the top of his sport.

Joshua has teamed back up with former amateur mentor Rob McCracken ahead of the second defence of his IBF heavyweight title against Eric Molina in Manchester tonight.

And the 27-year-old says it is the memory of an unforgiving life of budget hotels and a four-times-a-day training regime as a member of the part-time development squad in Sheffield that have kept him grounded as the acclaim and riches begin to swirl.

Joshua said: "I was coming from a gym when the coaches are having a fag and just saying 'hit the bag, Josh' and they're on the phone, and I thought, 'f*** me, this is really different from what I'm used to'.

"I used to stay at my hotel... I remember looking out of the window once and I saw (GB boxers) Tom Stalker and Kal Yafai skipping out of the Premier Inn and they jumped into a Range Rover to go to training.

"I thought, I can't wait to get on the podium squad. I was in my hotel and they were in the Premier Inn living the high life!

"I see the amateurs training day in, day out, they live the life and they don't think they're better than anyone else.

"I've been lucky that I've been around good people, who kept me grounded and taught me. When you are around people who have money, you realise money isn't that impressive, it's about your class, morals and how you conduct yourself."

Seeking out cut-price hotel deals is the last thing on Joshua's mind as he continues to build towards a multi-million pound bout against Wladimir Klitschko next year, and Molina is not expected to detain him long.

The 34-year-old Texan put up a commendable effort in lasting nine rounds against WBC champion Deontay Wilder in Alabama last year, and subsequently scored an impressive stoppage win over world-rated Tomasz Adamek in Poland.

Like Joshua, the engaging Molina, who is a part-time teacher of school children with special needs, insists on the importance of remaining grounded, and says the lure of glory and million-euro purses is not what convinces him to continue lacing on the gloves.

"I will never look at boxing as something that can change my life," said Molina. "I'm a school teacher and if I win or lose this fight, one day I will be back in the classroom.

"Nothing changes - I wear the same clothes and shoes and watch that I was wearing six years ago when I was making $20,000 a year and I had nothing. I have the same people around me and I fight only to share my story with the world."

Nineteen of Molina's 25 wins have come by way of stoppage and while he maintains his only chance is to triumph inside the distance tonight, he is more likely to go the way of Joshua's two previous world title opponents, and Dominic Breazeale, who totalled just nine rounds between them.

For Joshua, the bigger challenge is more likely to be that of containing the expectation, and for that he will revert back to the basics instilled in him by McCracken when he set out on the journey that would take him to the London 2012 gold medal.

Anthony Joshua still remembers chastening amateur days; opponent to go back to teaching after bout

"There is a lot of expectation, and that expectation is to win, win, win," added Joshua. "No success story has had an easy life, and maybe one day down the line I will face a little hurdle, whether it is in the ring or not. It doesn't matter what people think, it is how I deal with it."

Joshua's relaxed demeanour comes in stark contrast to the simmering rivalry between Dillian Whyte and Dereck Chisora, who will clash on the undercard in what is now a non-title contest after the British Boxing Board of Control elected to remove its sanction as a British title fight following Chisora's table-throwing antics at the press conference.

Kal Yafai faces a tough WBA super-flyweight challenge against Panama's Luis Concepcion - although only he can win after Concepcion failed to make the weight - while Bray fighter Katie Taylor has her second professional outing against Viviane Obenauf of Brazil.

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