Anthony Joshua has banked tens of millions of dollars and at 31 could retire and live comfortably for ever. Yet the former world heavyweight champ, still bruised and battered after his humbling points loss last week to Oleksandr Usyk, immediately demanded the rematch clause was activated.
Usyk picked AJ apart in London before his adoring fans and a rematch looks likely to go the same way once he’s fully recovered from a broken eye socket. Yet the gutsy British-Nigerian wants to face the 34-year-old Ukrainian in the new year to redeem himself.
Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn revealed that he seriously annoyed his fighter by asking him whether he’s certain that he wants to rematch next.
Although AJ was out boxed and battered, his first words after the final bell to Usyk was: “We’re gonna go again? Now I know how to beat you!” Joshua had moments of success throughout, but could not maintain.
Usyk had him out on his feet in the final round, with the bell saving AJ from being knocked out as he forfeited his WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight titles in the process.
The most telling words heard from Usyk after were: “Anthony, I watch you Baku.”
This is a reference to the 2011 Amateur World Championships in Baku, Azerbaijan, where Usyk took gold at heavyweight and AJ won silver at super-heavyweight. Obviously, Usyk had spotted the novice Londoner’s ability back then and tracked his progress since.
To win next time, Joshua will have to use his height, strength and reach advantages better, be more agile and connect with his big shots more often. Unlikely, but not impossible.
The loss put paid for the time being to a $500m megafight for Joshua against Tyson Fury who has his trilogy fight with Deontay Wilder in Las Vegas on Saturday. Wilder is convinced he can conquer the Brit this time although he was battered in seven rounds when they last met last year and looked fortunate with a draw in their first match when it looked as if Fury had done enough for the verdict.