If British boxing icon Anthony Joshua is to remain at the pinnacle of his sport then he must avoid life distractions like money and women, according to former heavyweight ruler Mike Tyson.
Once considered the “baddest man on the planet,” Tyson shook up the boxing world when he claimed the heavyweight championship aged 20.
Tyson’s head movement, defensive capability, and – above all – his cumulative concussive punches, saw him demolish fighters like Trevor Berbick, Larry Holmes, Michael Spinks, and Frank Bruno.
Though the American possessed an intimidating aura in his heydey, he was always articulate and had an unrivalled knowledge of boxing history. The present and the future of boxing, though, is Anthony Joshua.
“He has the potential to do a lot of big things,” he told BBC Radio 5 Live with Costello and Bunce.
“Joshua has got the look, he throws hard punches, and he fought a good fight [against Wladimir Klitschko in April]… he went down and didn’t have to get up, he got hit with a good shot. He got up kind of slow but when he got up, he finished the job.”
It was Joshua’s thumping 11th round knockout victory over Klitschko that convinced Tyson that the Briton could enjoy career longevity as a champion.
“If he doesn’t let his head and his emotions get in the way he can [rule for a long time], yes. He can’t get the big head, he has to focus on fighting.
“When he focuses on money, or girls, or whatever it is outside of fighting, things are going to go downhill. You can only focus on fighting. No religion, nothing. You can only focus on that when the fight is over.”
Tyson’s first reign as champion began in 1986 and lasted four years. Known just as much for his the personal problems of his past as he was for his sporting achievements, Tyson said “the heavyweight championship will drive people crazy.”
“It’s like the crown of thorns,” Tyson said on BBC radio. “Everybody wants to test you, to use you for something. It’s like being the president of the United States.
“Joshua [has] got so much pressure on him,” he added. “When I was in Dubai, they had big posters of him everywhere. He’s getting up there [in terms of global celebrity].”
For Joshua, Tyson perhaps expects him to take all the worldwide fame in his stride as “he’s a happy guy.” Tyson said: “He’s just one of those happy fighters always saying nice things to people.”
Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Sport recently confirmed a rematch with Wladimir Klitschko would likely be next for his marquee client, but Tyson would welcome an all British dust-up with Tyson Fury.
“That’s one fight I’d like to see,” Iron Mike said. “Some people might think Tyson Fury is a joke but he really knows how to fight.
“He puts it together really well and Klitschko couldn’t land a punch on him [during their 2015 bout] so let’s see if Joshua can land a big punch.”
Fury and Joshua’s respective victories over Klitschko have really opened up the heavyweight division and Tyson claims Joshua now has a target on his back.
“All the heavyweights are looking out for him!”
Tyson, though, clearly expects Joshua to conquer all of those heavyweights and keep that ‘crown of thorns’ for a long time.