Saturday, June 25, 2022

Joshua: “We’re still on our way to an undisputed win” as Usyk rematch draws closer

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Anthony Joshua is confident he is “still on the way to undisputed” status as he prepares for his rematch with Oleksandr Usyk.

Joshua will face Usyk in Saudi Arabia on August 20, 11 months after losing the WBA, WBO, IBF and IBO heavyweight titles to the undefeated Ukrainian.

The winner of the pair’s rematch could then face WBC champion Tyson Fury to crown an undisputed champion, although the Brit has claimed to have retired as a professional boxer after his knockout of Dillian Whyte in April.

If Joshua can defeat Usyk, it will be the second time “AJ” regains the belts. In June 2019, the Brit was KO’d by Andy Ruiz Jr. in New York City before knocking out the Mexican in Saudi Arabia in December of the same year.

Joshua’s only other loss came at the hands of Olympic gold medalist Usyk last year when the 35-year-old picked up a unanimous win over the home fighter in London.

Joshua, 32, returned to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday for a prefight press conference ahead of his rematch against Usyk, who also took to the stage.

“The hunger is definitely still there,” Joshua said. “Blips happen, things happen in life, but resilience, mental toughness and consistency will always prevail. We’re still on our way to being unquestionably safe. God willing, I will perform and be a three-time world heavyweight champion.”

“With Andy Ruiz, I think a lot of people could see beforehand [first] fighting that things weren’t 100 percent [with me]. But we take our loss as one man; if you lose, you have to stay humble. I knew I could come back and do what I had to do.

“The fight with Usyk, he broke my ass for a few rounds,” joked Joshua. “And I have to take this defeat like a man too, I have to be held accountable.

“In September’s fight I was wrong and he was right. I just have to reverse that role in August. I don’t like to complicate the situation, because in genius there is simplicity. I’ll keep things simple

“Anyone who knows my story knows I’m the comeback king. You can put me down, but it’s hard to hold me down.”

Joshua has added Robert Garcia to his coaching staff, while Angel Fernandez is taking on greater responsibility in the line-up as AJ’s longtime coach Rob McCracken has stepped down – at least for the time being.

“I’ve been traveling to England on and off since December,” Garcia said. “I see a different Anthony now. I think he fought the wrong fight [in September]but that’s in the past, that’s already happened.

“On August 20th we will do whatever is necessary. [AJ] is the bigger man, he’s the stronger man, he has the range advantage so we’re going to take advantage of all of that.

“We have to be prepared for anything. I think Anthony has all the tools to beat [Usyk]we just have to do things [we do] at the gym.

“I have no doubt that he will be champion again on August 20th. All the hard work he puts in at the gym motivates me too. I know how badly he wants it and I want my first world heavyweight champion.”

The rematch was originally scheduled to take place in the spring, but Usyk instead returned to his native Ukraine to help the country defend against the ongoing Russian invasion.

At Tuesday’s pre-fight press conference, the former undisputed cruiserweight champion sent a message to his compatriots, saying, “As you all know, we’re not in the best of conditions at home right now.

“I never made very loud and bright speeches, I just worked hard in my training camp and gym, I will do that until the fight date.

“Then I’ll get in the ring and make you happy with my boxing.”

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