Anthony Joshua has opened up on the pain he felt after losing to Oleksandr Usyk last year, saying the defeat “mentally killed me”.

Usyk comfortably secured a unanimous-decision victory over Joshua in September, dethroning the WBO, WBA, IBF and IBO heavyweight champion in London.

Joshua has since triggered a rematch clause to face the undefeated Ukrainian again, likely in spring, and has spoken of his emotions from the fallout of his loss to Usyk.

“If I didn’t fight the best, I may not have lost,” Joshua told Sky Sports. “I know people have high expectations of me, and that’s why sometimes they’re shocked, and I have high expectations of myself as well.

“That’s why, when I lost the first time [to Andy Ruiz Jr in June 2019], I never made no excuses. But I have my reason, and I always felt like: ‘Cool, I took my loss, but I’ll get it back.’ I knew I’d get it back.

Recommended


“So, I just brushed it off. But this one hurt, because I was 100 per cent – no problems, everything was cool, I went in there and I just lost to the better man that night.

“It hurt, but it gave me motivation to pull myself out of that position where mentally it killed me. I’ve fought my way back and I’ll redeem myself.”

Joshua’s stoppage defeat by Ruiz was the first of his professional career, and the Briton avenged it by outpointing the Mexican-American at the end of 2019 – regaining his titles in the process.

Joshua, 32, then knocked out Kubrat Pulev in late 2020, before taking on Usyk.

Southpaw Usyk outboxed Joshua with relative ease, and Joshua has admitted that a taunt from Tyson Fury contributed to “AJ”’s perhaps misguided tactics that night.

“I wanted to box with [Usyk] for 12 rounds, because there was always a stigma that I can’t box, [that] I’m a big, stiff bodybuilder,” Joshua said, referencing a jibe from his fellow British heavyweight.

Recommended



“So I said: ‘Alright, cool, let me practise my boxing.’ I tried practising my boxing with Usyk.

“He won nine rounds, I won three. Next fight, I win four more rounds – I win.”

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

{{#verifyErrors}} {{message}} {{/verifyErrors}} {{^verifyErrors}} {{message}} {{/verifyErrors}}

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Source: Read Full Article