‘I am the return king’ – Anthony Joshua hungry to avenge Oleksandr Usyk’s defeat

‘I am the return king’ – Anthony Joshua hungry to avenge Oleksandr Usyk’s defeat

Anthony Joshua is determined to write a new chapter in the “returning king” story by reclaiming his WBA, IBF and WBO titles from Oleksandr Usyk.

The rivals face off in Jeddah on August 20 in a rematch dubbed ‘The Rage on the Red Sea’ and promotional duties began in the Saudi Arabian coastal city on Tuesday afternoon.

Neither fighter wanted to walk away from an intense showdown at the end of the press conference, despite instructions from promoter Eddie Hearn. It was Usyk who ended up moving first, though his eyes were still fixed on Joshua as he did.

Oleksandr Usyk was a comfortable points winner in his first clash with Anthony Joshua

Oleksandr Usyk was a comfortable points winner in his first match with Anthony Joshua (Nick Potts/PA)

The Ukrainian coach secured a conclusive points victory when they first met at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium last September, but Joshua feels he has the tools to become a three-time unified heavyweight champion.

Reinforcing his belief is that he successfully emerged from his rebellious years as a teenager when he was arrested by the police and spent time in remand, as well as struggling with his shocking defeat to Andy Ruiz Jr in 2019.

“The good thing is that I have a second chance. When I was young I had a few problems every now and then and I was blessed with a second chance, I found boxing and I took it with both hands,” Joshua said.

“If you know me and you know a lot about my history, you will know that I am the king of return. You can bring me down, but it would be hard to keep me down, because I always keep my spirits high.

“I am very prayed and grateful. Even in my hard times, I know it will all make sense in the long run. So we move on.

“Definitely, the hunger is still there, as I always said from the beginning. Stay hungry, keep motivation high.

“Blips happen, things happen in life, but resilience, mental toughness and consistency will always prevail. So we’re still on the road to undisputed for sure.

“It’s just a little speck on the road, but I’m focused on the target, which is sitting there. I’m focused on the goal and God willing, I’ll perform and become a three-time world champion”.

Joshua’s game plan for the first fight was criticized when he tried to outrun a smaller, more technical fighter rather than capitalizing on his size and power advantages.

Longtime head coach Rob McCracken was subsequently transferred and in the 32-year-old’s corner on August 20 will be Robert Garcia, who has promised revised tactics.

“I see a different Anthony now. The way he thinks, the way he talks. Everything he’s been practicing, everything he’s been doing in the gym,” Garcia said.

“I think he fought the wrong fight. He’s the bigger man, the stronger man, he’s got the reach advantage, so let’s enjoy all of that.”

Oleksandr Usyk Joined Ukraine's War Effort Against Invading Russian Army

Oleksandr Usyk joined Ukraine’s war effort against the invading Russian army (Nick Potts/PA)

The rematch was scheduled to take place earlier this year, but Usyk returned to Ukraine to help with the war effort against Russia until he received a special waiver to prepare for a second fight against Joshua.

“As we all know, we are not in the best condition at home at the moment, but we are doing what we have to do,” Usyk said.

“We are doing our job, together with my team we are working hard to achieve our goals. I’ve never given loud and brilliant speeches, all I have to do is work hard at my boot camp and at the gym.

“That’s what I’m going to do until the day of the fight. And then I will step into the ring and make you happy with my boxing.”

It will be Joshua’s second fight in Saudi Arabia after he avenged his loss to Ruiz with a comfortable points victory in Riyadh in 2019.

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