Defeated Joshua promises Usyk rematch

Sports

LONDON — Anthony Joshua has promised to fight Oleksandr Usyk in a rematch after he lost his heavyweight world titles by unanimous decision at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Saturday.

Joshua lost his WBA, IBF and WBO world title belts as he was clearly outpointed by the still-undefeated Usyk over 12 rounds, who became a two-weight world champion. The Ukranian was previously the undisputed cruiserweight champion and has become just the third man to win world titles at both weights after David Haye and Evander Holyfield.

Joshua’s promoter, Matchroom Boxing’s Eddie Hearn, confirmed after the fight that the pair have a rematch clause in their contract, though it does not stipulate where the second fight should be held.

When asked in a news conference if he wanted to take the rematch against the Ukrainian, Joshua said: “100%. “I’m ready to get back to training. Because of the 12 rounds, my lungs and everything, it was a good 12-rounder, so I’ll be in a good place when I get back into training to pick up where we left off.”

Usyk (19-0, 13 KOs), 34, said he wants to hold the rematch at the Olimpiyskiy National Sports Stadium in Kiev, Ukraine. However, Hearn responded soon after, saying it was “very unlikely” that the bout would take place in Ukraine and that London was his preferred option.

Joshua (24-2, 22 KOs), 31, lost his titles on Saturday for the second time in his career, having previously suffered a shock defeat at the hands of Andy Ruiz Jr. in New York in June 2019 before winning a rematch in Saudi Arabia six months later.

“I’m a different kind of animal. I’m not a sulker,” Joshua said. “I’m not going to go home tonight and be crying about it because this is war. It’s a long process. This is not like one fight and I’m done.”

Before Saturday’s bout, Joshua was frequently linked with a heavyweight unification bout with WBC champion and compatriot Tyson Fury, and the pair even said they signed a two-fight deal in March. Joshua said his motivation for a fight with Fury is not affected by losing his world titles.

“The road to undisputed and all that stuff, it’s good,” he said. “I’ll fight Tyson Fury, Wilder, without the belts. “The belts are fun. It’s great, it’s legacy. But with or without the belts, I’ll fight whoever. The road to undisputed is a nice title to have and a nice title to chase.”

Undefeated Fury will defend his title for the first time when completed his trilogy with Deontay Wilder, drawing their first bout in December 2018 before claiming the belts from the American in February 2020.

Joshua did not require hospital treatment after the fight despite earlier reports, notably on his right eye which closed up in the ninth round. He said after that he was only able to see out of left eye as Usyk dominated the judges scoring in the final rounds.

“I couldn’t see in the ninth round,” Joshua said. “My eye was shut, but it was a good experience, because in adversity, you’ve just got to learn to control yourself, stay on top of things, so when I couldn’t see anything, it’s the first time it’s happened in a fight.

“I was thinking, ‘All-right, cool, it’s the first time my eye has closed up in a fight. I can’t see nothing.’ I’m looking out of one eye, but it got better as the rounds went on.”

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