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AJ: I don’t duck challenges, I’ve signed to fight Fury & Wilder before

Anthony Joshua does not shirk a challenge.

He will be a significant favourite when he boxes mixed martial arts star Francis Ngannou on March 8, live on Sky Sports Box Office.

Throughout his career though Joshua has taken on a sequence of elite opponents, from Wladimir Klitschko to Oleksandr Usyk, with Joseph Parker, Alexander Povetkin and many more in between.

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Watch this epic arcade-style blockbuster fight promo ahead of Anthony Joshua vs Francis Ngannou on March 8.

But glaring omissions from Joshua’s CV are American puncher Deontay Wilder and British rival Tyson Fury.

Joshua however points out that even though bouts with those opponents never came to fruition, for his part he has previously agreed to fight both men.

Talks for a fight with Tyson Fury have stalled and collapsed in the past, while Joshua had inked a deal to fight Wilder this year, only for the American to suffer a surprise upset loss to Joseph Parker and nix the arrangement.

The Wilder cancellation, Joshua told Sky Sports News, was “annoying in a way because in fight week we met up, we spoke to lawyers, we signed contracts, all that good stuff”.

“It’s a fight that fans want to see,” he continued. “I’m not saying it’s completely written off.

“It’s a fight where everything was signed and sealed. It just needed both of us to deliver. And he didn’t meet his end of the bargain.”

His willingness to take on that level of opposition says something about Joshua as a fighter.

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MMA legend Dan Hardy believes that Francis Ngannou’s ‘unquantifiable power’ will concern Anthony Joshua.

“You now what it proved to me, I’ve signed to fight Fury, I’ve signed to fight Wilder, I’ve signed to fight a lot of people. I just do good business. I’m a good prizefighter, I don’t duck a challenge,” Joshua said.

“I’m always up for it. I just feel to myself I’ll always be here and ready to fight any time.”

Joshua was unable to recapture the unified world heavyweight titles when he rematched Oleksandr Usyk.

But since his last defeat to the Ukrainian, Joshua has racked up three wins and will use this upcoming bout with Ngannou to gauge his standing in the division.

“He had a good outing as well against Tyson Fury who is the current WBC champion. So I think it will be good for me to see where I’m at,” he said.

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Barry Jones and Enzo Maccarinelli agree that Anthony Joshua has regained his confidence which is bad news for Francis Ngannou.

It’s a fight Joshua insists he won’t take lightly. “You should always overestimate people if you want my opinion,” he said. “Never underestimate anyone, always overestimate people and that way you’ll never be surprised.”

Ngannou will be Joshua’s second consecutive bout in Saudi Arabia. But he anticipates boxing again in Britain before the end of the year.

“When will I fight back in the UK?” he said. “Maybe the fight after this one. Maybe after March 8 we’ll probably make a return to the UK.

“We’ll have a good window where we can get some fights in in the UK possibly.”

For the time being his appetite for the sport appears undimmed. He is not contemplating retirement in the immediate future. He wants to keep on testing himself.

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Former cruiserweight world champion Johnny Nelson believes it would be the end of Anthony Joshua’s career if the Brit loses to Francis Ngannou but says he can’t see anything but a victory for AJ.

“On this quest for greatness how far can I push myself?” Joshua wondered.

“How much can my brain keep on going until it gives up and I’m like: I can’t do it anymore?

“I want to keep on pushing my brain and trying new things. Get quicker, stronger, smarter in the ring. Face challenges, because I learn so much about myself.

“And then when it’s enough, enough is enough.”

Watch Joshua vs Ngannou live on Sky Sports Box Office on Friday March 8.

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