'Desperate' Joshua plans 'less talk, more action' before Usyk rematch

By Sports Desk June 29, 2022

Anthony Joshua acknowledges he is "desperate" to beat Oleksandr Usyk and reclaim his WBA, IBF and WBO titles but would rather do his talking in the ring.

Joshua has booked a rematch against Usyk for August 20 in Jeddah, having suffered only the second defeat of his professional career against the Ukrainian last year.

In a news conference on Wednesday, Joshua spoke of the benefits of having the first fight to look back on but described facing a southpaw like Usyk as "a nightmare".

And "every fight is different", the British heavyweight added; Usyk agreed, vowing: "I do understand that [Joshua] is going to be different – so will I."

This was perhaps unlike many boxing media briefings, with a relative lack of ego on show as Joshua focused on delivering a result while Usyk dismissed the significance of becoming "the greatest".

"I'm definitely desperate to get my hands on [the titles]," Joshua said, but he added: "Less talk, more action. Let me get in there and do my job.

"I'm not a comedian, I'm not someone who writes speeches. I'm definitely hungry, definitely desperate, but at the end of the day, how I perform will speak volumes to the masses."

In the opposite corner, Usyk – wearing a t-shirt in the colours of the Ukraine flag, bearing the message, "colours of freedom" – is not interested in appealing to the masses.

"I'm not fighting for money or recognition," he said. "I don't need this. I don't need to become the greatest.

"I'm just doing my job now and will continue doing it as long as my heart is beating. The only thing I'm on my way to is to save my soul. Everything else is just life."

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    Tyson Fury voiced his frustration after suffering the first defeat of his career to Oleksandr Usyk in their undisputed world heavyweight title fight in Saudi Arabia.

    Usyk won by split decision to become the first undisputed heavyweight champion since Lennox Lewis, and the first to unite all four belts.

    The scorecards read 115-112 and 114-113 in favour of Usyk, while a third judge scored 114-113 to Fury.

    After an even start, the momentum shifted in a brilliant ninth round for the Ukrainian as he caught Fury with a left hook, forcing the referee to give him a standing count before the bell saved him from a further onslaught.

    A defiant Fury was not happy with the result, suggesting that Usyk received a sympathy vote from the judges.

    "I believe I won that fight," he said in the ring. "I believe he won a few of the rounds, but I won the majority.

    "His country is at war, so people are siding with the country at war. Make no mistake, I won that fight, in my opinion.

    "It was one of the daftest decisions in boxing. We run it back in October. I'm not going to sit here and cry and make excuses."

    Usyk remained undefeated as he took Fury’s WBC belt to add to his WBA, WBO and IBF collection.

    "Thank you so much for my team. It's a big opportunity for my family, for my country," an emotional Usyk said afterwards. "I'm very happy.

    "My people will be very happy. I think it's a big win, not only for me, it's a big win for my country, for soldiers who now defend my country.

    "I think my father now is watching over me and is very happy. Dad, I love you. I can, you told me I can."

  • John Fury appears to headbutt member of Team Usyk ahead of undisputed bout John Fury appears to headbutt member of Team Usyk ahead of undisputed bout

    Tyson Fury's father John Fury was left with a nasty cut on his face after appearing to headbutt a member of Oleksandr Usyk's entourage at a pre-fight media day on Monday.

    WBC belt-holder Fury will face Usyk for the undisputed world heavyweight title in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on Saturday, with both men defending undefeated professional records.

    With both fighters and their camps present at a hotel in the city for media duties on Monday, the build-up to their bout – the most eagerly anticipated in the heavyweight division in recent years – got off to a chaotic start.

    Fury's father was pictured with blood running down his forehead after becoming involved in an altercation with a man wearing a Team Usyk tracksuit.

    Widely shared footage on social media appeared to show him headbutting the man, who then had to be restrained by other members of Usyk's entourage.

    It was later reported that the Saudi Arabian authorities were aware of the incident but did not plan to take any action.    

  • Joshua expects to fight at Wembley in September with Zhang or Wilder lined up Joshua expects to fight at Wembley in September with Zhang or Wilder lined up

    Anthony Joshua expects to return to Wembley Stadium for his next fight in September, with either Zhilei Zhang or Deontay Wilder lined up as his opponent.

    Joshua stopped Francis Ngannou in the second round in March, his fourth straight win since suffering back-to-back defeats to Oleksandr Usyk in 2021 and 2022. 

    His last two fights have been held in Saudi Arabia, but as he inches closer to a shot at regaining the titles he lost to Usyk three years ago, he is eyeing a return to his native London.

    "It'll be some date between September 20 and September 25. Whenever they tell me there's a date, you know I'll be ready 100 per cent," Joshua told TalkSport of his next fight.

    "It's going be in London, Wembley Stadium, this is what I'm being told. If this is what they say, they usually stick to their word."

    Pushed on possible opponents, he said the result of Zhang's upcoming bout with Wilder – who was scheduled to face Joshua in March only for those plans to be derailed by a shock defeat to Joseph Parker – will be decisive.

    "On June 1 in Saudi Arabia, they've got Filip Hrgovic versus Daniel Dubois and Zhilei Zhang versus Deontay Wilder. Out of that pool, that's who I'll be fighting."

    On Wilder, Joshua added: "If he looks good, that'll reignite that flame that he had. Boxing is all about perception, so I pray he does his thing and Zhang does his thing, and I'm ready."

    There has also been plenty of talk about Joshua facing Tyson Fury in an all-British tussle in recent years. The WBC heavyweight champion faces Usyk in a huge unification bout next month, and with a two-way rematch clause present in their deal, they are likely to face off twice before the year is out.

    When those obligations have been met, Joshua will be waiting, saying: "I know the fans want that big fight with Fury, but he's got his obligations with Usyk. 

    "They're working on it but I've just got to stay focused, stay disciplined, steamroller through opponents and get closer and closer to having a fight with Fury. Hopefully that'll be in London as well."

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