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Anthony Joshua shuts down Deontay Wilder comparisons and sets sights on one specific target

Anthony Joshua returns to the ring this Saturday night as he takes on Robert Helenius.

A heated weigh-in on Friday further demonstrated Anthony Joshua's laser focus on Robert Helenius despite a potential bout with Deontay Wilder looming in the background. 

Joshua and Helenius took part in an intense staredown at Westfields in Shepherds Bush after they both tipped the scales just shy of 18 stone ahead of Saturday's fight at the O2 Arena in London.
Helenius was only drafted in at the 11th hour when original opponent Dillian Whyte failed a drugs test with the Voluntary Anti-Doping Assocation (VADA) and while the Finnish boxer ensured the show would still go on, his aim now is to throw a spanner in the works for the home favourite.
The talk surrounding Joshua, like for many of his recent fights, is about what next and talks between his camp and Wilder's team continue over a proposed clash at the end of this year or at the start of 2024.
An eagerly-anticipated future bout between two former world heavyweight champions will only happen if Joshua shuts out comparisons with Wilder to do the business against Helenius, who suffered a first-round knock-out to the American in October.
"I have to ignore it. It is one step at a time," Joshua insisted when asked about ex-WBC belt holder Wilder.
"When I fought Jason Gavern, I knocked him out, Wilder took longer. When I fought Eric Molina, I knocked him out in three and Wilder took nine rounds.
"There will always be comparisons. This is my own fight with Helenius, no-one else's. I can't fail."
Joshua has carried that win-at-all-costs mentality for a number of years, but it failed to prevent a shock loss in 2019 to Andy Ruiz Jr - who was also a late replacement for Jarrell Miller following a failed drugs test - and consecutive defeats to Oleksandr Usyk.
A laboured display on his way to a unanimous points victory against Jermaine Franklin in April got the Finchley boxer back on the comeback trail, but his preparation for this 29th contest of his career has been far from ideal.
Last weekend, Joshua trained knowing it could all be for nothing after he discovered on Saturday morning that Whyte had been pulled from the show but Friday's fiery exchange with Helenius showed he is locked in.
Joshua tipped the scales at 17st and 12lbs, while Helenius was a pound lighter, before the duo exchanged words - with the British heavyweight inviting his veteran opponent to fight there and then instead of 24 hours later if he wished.
Even though Joshua will no longer being going head-to-head with old rival Whyte, he is adamant no stone has been left unturned during this second camp with trainer Derrick James.
He admitted: "There was one session where I was like, 'what are we training for?' We trained on Saturday and maybe then I felt what am I training for, but we just had to flip the coin.
"I could spend more time complaining about it, due to this late replacement whoever it might be, but I couldn't put my energy into complaining. I had to change the script, change the screensaver on my phone.
"It's me and (Wladimir) Klitschko now. Before it was me and Dillian at the weigh-in. I just wanted to visualise what my life's focused on at the minute."
Victory over Klitschko at a sold-out Wembley in 2017 helped Joshua reach the pinnacle of the sport and despite recent setbacks against Usyk, he is confident another shot at a world title will present itself.
Given Joshua turns 34 in October, it needs to be sooner rather than later, but he remains comfortable in his own skin after becoming only the ninth British heavyweight to become world champion - via a short spell in prison after a teenage life embroiled in drugs and crime in England's capital.
"Can I be champion again? Yeah. Definitely. I don't think it's that hard to fight for one belt, but it's challenging to unify that's hard. The accumulation of belts takes years," Joshua reflected.
"I was the champion. When you're a champion, it's deserved and I'm not the champion any more. It's natural.
"It's a building process. So, it's back to the O2 and travelling around, hopefully fighting in different arenas, maybe Manchester (Arena) next.
"Once I fight the right people we could easily go back to a stadium. You know who these names are.
"Everyone loves a winner. Losers, especially in boxing, get no credibility. I never looked at it being about me. 'Oh they love me'. No, they just loved the belt.
"I worked hard outside boxing to build my brand. I always believed it's never just about boxing. You can't let boxing define you. There has to be more to you.
"I thought I will always have my own identity as a person before I am identified as a champion."
READ MORE: Robert Helenius gave up family holiday in Lapland to fight Anthony Joshua

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