Former boxing champion, Mike Tyson has spoken out of experience and advised Anthony Joshua to handle the pressure and distractions of holding world heavyweight titles which can be “a crown of thorns”.
Joshua, 27, knocked out Wladimir Klitschko in May to add the WBA title to the IBF strap he already held.
In a wide-ranging interview with BBC Radio 5 live boxing’s Mike Costello, Tyson describes Joshua as a “happy fighter” who is “fast for a big guy”, and his admiration grew when the Briton survived the first knockdown of his career to stop Klitschko in the 11th round at Wembley Stadium.
He places huge emphasis on the heart Joshua showed to “finish the job”, insisting such grit is the most important quality in the sport.
“Joshua has the potential to do a lot of things,” said Tyson, 50. “He’s got the look and throws a lot of hard punches. But there is so much pressure on him. I was in Dubai and there are big posters of him there.”
Tyson was stopped from entering the UK in 2013 because of previous convictions, one of which saw him serve three years of a six-year jail sentence imposed in 1992 for raping a teenage beauty-pageant contestant.
In a career packed with incident, he also regained the WBC world title after his spell in jail, bit the ear of Evander Holyfield during a 1997 bout and filed for bankruptcy in 2002, three years before his final fight.
He told 5 live’s boxing podcast: “The heavyweight championship will drive people crazy, you know that right? It’s like a crown of thorns. Everyone wants to use you for something. It’s like being the President of the United States.
“Joshua can’t get the big head. He has to focus on fighting. When you start focusing on money, girls or whatever it is, it’s going downhill. No religion, nothing, you can do those things when the fight is over. Let’s see if he can handle that stuff.
“It’s his time. I could be wrong, I’m not the gospel of boxing but he impressed me with Klitschko.”