Anthony Joshua faced Oleksandr Usyk for the first time since losing his heavyweight titles last year when the two boxers met at a press conference on Tuesday to announce their August 20 rematch in Saudi Arabia.
The two fighters went head to head on the stage. It turned into an extended face off with neither man willing to break away from their first staredown since the fight.
Usyk tormented Joshua over 12 rounds in September at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London to hand the Watford heavyweight a unanimous decision loss and the second defeat of his professional career.
Neither has boxed since but they will fight a rematch this summer in Saudi Arabia with Joshua under pressure to reclaim the unified WBO, WBA and IBF heavyweight titles and recapture his position in the division.
Both Joshua and Usyk won gold medals at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Ukraine’s Usyk went on to become the undisputed champion at cruiserweight. Against Joshua he proved that he could handle a leading heavyweight and is now considered one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world today.
But the Briton is adamant that he has learned from their first fight and will make the necessary changes to win second time around.
“God willing I’ll perform and I’ll become three-time heavyweight champion of the world,” Joshua said.
“The great thing is I’ve got a second chance. What got me into boxing in the first place – when I was a youngster I got in a little bit of trouble every now and again and I was blessed with a second chance and I found boxing. And I took it with both hands. So if you know me and a lot of my story, you know I’m the comeback king.
“You can put me down. But it’s difficult to keep me down.”
Usyk, measured in his approach as always, calmly said, “As we all know we are not in the best condition at the moment back at home [in Ukraine] but we are doing what we have to do. We are doing our job. Together with my team we are working hard to achieve our goals. I never made some very loud and bright speeches. All I did was I just worked hard in my training camp and in my gym. That’s what I’m going to do until the date of the fight and then I will enter the ring and will make you happy with my boxing.”
Joshua did reverse his first professional loss when he outpointed Andy Ruiz in another Saudi Arabian rematch in 2019. But he acknowledges he will have to change his tactics for this August bout with Usyk.
To that end he has brought in a new trainer, Robert Garcia to join Angel Fernandez in his corner. “Sometimes if you keep things simple you can achieve great things,” he said. “Robert’s been great in the camp.
“Definitely the hunger’s still there.”
“Blips happen, things happen in life,” he added. “We’re still on the road, still on the road to undisputed for sure.”