Anthony Joshua has lifted the lid on the instructions given to him by undefeated welterweight king Floyd Mayweather during the Brit’s ninth-round knockout victory over Kubrat Pulev in December. The Watford-born heavyweight successfully defended his three championship belts against the Bulgarian challenger, who produced a spirited performance at Wembley’s SSE Arena, but ultimately failed to withstand the sheer force of Joshua and was stopped with three rounds to go.
The bout was attended by 1,000 fans after COVID-19 restrictions were partially lifted, a figure that included Mayweather and his entourage who had made the trip from across the Atlantic to witness Joshua’s latest demolition job.
The Michigan native, who cultivated an impressive 50-0 record during his professional career, turned up largely unannounced having only alerted fans to his whereabouts via an Instagram story shortly before the event.
He was seen shouting towards the ring during the fight, to which Joshua responded by raising an arm in Mayweather’s direction, before the American congratulated him in his dressing room after the contest was over.
Joshua has since revealed that Mayweather had urged him to lead with his jab, reflecting on the moment while rewatching the action with JD Sports.
“When I put my hand up there, I could hear Mayweather: ‘Jab, jab, champ’,” he said. “That’s when I kind of acknowledged him.”
The event represented the first occasion that fans were permitted to be in attendance for a UK fight since before the first nationwide lockdown in March.
It was also Joshua’s first outing for over a year after he claimed revenge against former champion Andy Ruiz Jr in December 2019.
He previously revealed that he paid homage to Mayweather by pulling off the undefeated 44-year-old’s signature move against Pulev midway through the bout.
“It was the first time we were allowed fans back in stadiums and Mayweather was in the stadium,” he said in a YouTube documentary. “It’s an honour to have him in the house, I respect him highly for what he’s achieved.
“He came to see me perform and I pulled out one of his favourite moves which is the pull counter. If you watch boxing, you’ll know that’s one of Mayweather’s signature moves.
“Having him in the house was an honour and I felt I had to give him a little something to remember.”
Joshua is currently on the verge of a highly-anticipated unification fight against fellow Brit Tyson Fury, with the two camps having been locked in negotiations since Pulev’s defeat three months ago.
Official confirmation of a two-fight deal is said to be tantalisingly close, with only minor details left to thrash out before the first contest can be formally announced.
Matchroom supremo Eddie Hearn, who represents Joshua, and Fury’s counterpart Bob Arum are yet to decide on the location, with a number of options reportedly being considered.
Saudi Arabia is understood to be the favourite to host the event due to its ability to offer a monumental site fee, while Qatar and the United States are also in contention.
A date is also believed to be under review, with Top Rank chief Arum claiming last month that the first bout will take place in the middle of summer.
“We hope very shortly that the fight will be signed,” he told the Daily Mirror. “Then we will pick the site and we’ll be up and running.
“I’m looking towards late June or early July for the actual fight to take place.”