Anthony Joshua has set his sights on becoming a three-time world heavyweight champion “within the next 16 months” as he prepares to face Jermaine Franklin.
The 33-year-old British Nigerian boxer is not currently holding any title after losing back-to-back fights to Oleksandr Usyk in September 2021 and August 2022.
Joshua has tasted defeat in three of his past five bouts, with Andy Ruiz Jr sensationally ending his opponent’s unbeaten streak of 22 fights.
But the Briton believes he is on the road back to the top, with a huge showdown against Tyson Fury again being touted should he defeat Franklin at the O2 Arena on Saturday.
“I do and I did want respect from people in the industry that I admire, ex-legends in the game and when you’re not a champion anymore you feel like that goes away,” he said.
“That was definitely something I was yearning for – the respect from ex-champions. When I’d lost it, it was like ‘f***, I’ve lost that invincibility’, but it’s all good.
“We move forward. I’m not really doing it for that purpose any more because I’m not in that position, but the desire?
“One is definitely to become champion, which I think is possible within the next 16 months.
“I think we’ve got to see what happens this year with the belts. Let them be competed for and then potentially let them go up in the air and then we’ll see where the belts land.
“Then it’s about just staying consistent, staying focused on improving for these next 12 to 16 months while I’m in title contention.”
Next weekend’s fight will be Joshua’s first since 2015 that has not been contested with a world title on the line.
“There is definitely not as much nerves,” he said. “That kind of pressure, that pressure cooker is off a bit. The pressure was a lot, I can’t lie to you.
“But when you want something so bad, I was really pushing that undisputed narrative for so long, that road to undisputed hashtag with all of the brands we work with.
“We pushed it, but now we’re at a new stage. We can’t look back. We’re only looking forward and I see a bright future and that kind of keeps me in good spirits.”