Anthony Joshua says he did not feel like a genuine heavyweight world champion before April’s victory over Wladimir Klitschko.
The 28-year-old Briton – who faces Carlos Takam in Cardiff on Saturday – won the IBF title in 2016 but stopped Klitschko after 11 rounds at Wembley Stadium to add the WBA crown.
“I became a champion because of what I went through with Klitschko,” he said.
“Those type of fights have championship status written all over them.”
After beating Charles Martin in two rounds to land the IBF crown in just his 16th professional fight, Joshua was uneasy at being referred to as “champ”.
Asked by BBC Sport’s Mike Costello if he now feels like a champion, Joshua replied: “Now I do. Not in a big-time way. Even though I trained for Charles Martin, the fight looked too easy.
“What we went through with Klitschko represents what a champion is.
“Rob McCracken has never trained me to take a battering. But in that ring, in a time like that, there is nowhere to hide. It comes down to who you are at that moment.”