‘110 Percent’: Anthony Joshua Wants Rematch With Usyk

Ukrainian boxer Oleksandr Usyk (L) fights British heavyweight champion boxer Anthony Joshua at the end of their heavyweight boxing match at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in north London on September 25, 2021. Usyk defeated Joshua on points. Adrian DENNIS / AFP

 

Anthony Joshua said he was “110 percent” likely to activate a rematch clause with Oleksandr Usyk after losing his world heavyweight titles to the Ukrainian in stunning fashion in London on Saturday

Usyk gave a boxing masterclass in recording a unanimous points victory to deprive Joshua of his World Boxing Association, International Boxing Federation and World Boxing Organization belts in front of the dethroned champion’s home crowd of more than 66,000 at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

His victory extended Usyk’s unbeaten professional record to 19 wins and scuppered the prospects of an all-British world heavyweight title unification bout between Joshua and Tyson Fury.

It also meant Usyk became just the third cruiserweight world champion after Evander Holyfield of the United States and Britain’s David Haye to also take a heavyweight title, with the 34-year-old achieving the feat in just his third professional contest in the heavyweight ranks.

The contract for this bout, however, contained a rematch clause.

And Joshua, who previously lost his belts when beaten by Andy Ruiz in New York in June 2019 before regaining the titles in a rematch in Saudi Arabia six months later, is determined to face Usyk again.

“A hundred percent, 110 percent,” he told a post-fight press conference. “I’m ready to get back to training.

“There’s an old saying ‘If you want to go down as a great fighter, don’t fight southpaws’, especially good ones. He (Usyk) is a good fighter.”

Joshua suffered a badly swollen right eye which required medical attention in a fight where only the bell appeared to save him from a last-round knockout.

“I couldn’t see in the ninth round,” explained Joshua. “My eye was shut, but it was a good experience, because in adversity, you’ve just got to learn to control yourself… it’s the first time it’s happened in a fight.”

Joshua, sounding remarkably upbeat despite a convincing loss, insisted: “I’m a different kind of animal. I’m not a sulker, this is a blessed opportunity to be able to fight for the heavyweight championship of the world.

“Straight away I’ve already been watching the fight and figuring out what I could have done better.”

Joshua’s defeat put paid to a fight anytime soon with Fury, who defends his World Boxing Council heavyweight title against Deontay Wilder in Las Vegas next month — the third time the pair have met after a split-decision draw and a win for Fury.

Joshua, however, insisted: “I’ll fight Tyson Fury, Wilder, without the belts. It’s great, it’s legacy but with or without the belts I’ll fight whoever.”

READ ALSO: Usyk Ends Anthony Joshua’s Reign As World Heavyweight Champion

‘Lucky City’

Ukrainian boxer Oleksandr Usyk (L) fights British heavyweight champion boxer Anthony Joshua at the end of their heavyweight boxing match at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in north London on September 25, 2021.  Adrian DENNIS / AFP

 

Usyk, three years older than Joshua, also made light of giving away three inches (7.62 centimetres) in height as well as nearly 20lbs (nine kilogrammes) in weight during his latest triumph in London following a heavyweight gold medal at the 2012 Olympics — a Games where Joshua took the super-heavyweight title.

“London is a really lucky city for me but not a single professional victory can be above an Olympic gold,” said Usyk via a translator.

“At this point it is the biggest fight in my career but it wasn’t the hardest one. I cannot say (who was) but, most likely, it’s ahead of us.”

Most of Usyk’s wins have come outside Ukraine, with the new champion — who spent three months in a preparation camp away from his wife and family — adding: “I would love to have the rematch at Olympiyskiy Stadium in Kiev.”

But Joshua’s promoter, Eddie Hearn, suggested any rematch would be in Britain, in February or March.

Hearn said a defeat by the “outstanding” Usyk was easier to accept than the “bolt from the blue” that was the first Ruiz fight.

“I think in a strange way he (Joshua) enjoyed the fight because I think he knows he learnt so much and, deep down he knows he was beaten by the better man tonight,” he said.

“I think you need to credit him (Joshua) because he could have swerved that fight easy and maybe we should have, but that’s not really what he’s about.”

Hearn, who questioned whether Usyk could hit the same heights again after a “perfect fight”, added: “Anything can happen, but AJ will, I promise you, be much, much better than that in the re-match.”

AFP

Joshua Tightlipped On Future Fight With Wilder After Reclaiming World Titles

Heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua is pictured during a press conference in Ad Diriyah, a Unesco-listed heritage site, outside Riyadh. FAYEZ NURELDINE / AFP
Heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua is pictured during a press conference in Ad Diriyah, a Unesco-listed heritage site, outside Riyadh.
FAYEZ NURELDINE / AFP

 

Anthony Joshua would not be drawn on his future plans after regaining his world heavyweight titles from Andy Ruiz on Saturday.

The heavyweight champion won back his WBA, IBF, and WBO belts with a one-sided unanimous defeat of Ruiz in Diriyah outside Saudi Arabia’s capital.

The victory reinstates Joshua as a major player in boxing’s most glamorous division and instantly renews speculation about a possible unification super-fight with WBC champion Deontay Wilder.

But Joshua, 30, said while he remains open to a fight with the unbeaten Wilder, he would not “chase” the fight.

“It’s difficult to unite them,” said Joshua, who had seen negotiations with Wilder’s camp fall flat several times before his defeat to Ruiz in June.

“We’ll see what happens. Chasing that fight wasn’t playing to my benefit, so I’m going to let the path takes its course.

“When the opportunity presents itself to become the unified heavyweight champion I’ll take it.”

READ ALSO: UPDATED: Joshua Beats Ruiz, Reclaims Heavyweight Titles

Ruiz meanwhile is eager for the third meeting with Joshua. Although Joshua indicated he would be happy to face the Mexican-American again, that fight is unlikely to happen anytime soon.

In the short term, Joshua faces mandatory title defences against IBF challenger Kubrat Pulev and WBO contender Oleksandr Usyk.

Promoter Eddie Hearn also declined to elaborate on Joshua’s future plans.

“Tonight’s about celebrating victory,” Hearn said. “We’ll speak to the governing bodies and see who goes first.”

“We are going to celebrate. Anthony Joshua is an amazing ambassador for the sport. Tonight, in Saudi Arabia, he becomes the two-time heavyweight champion of the world and that is beautiful.

“They wrote him off. They said he was all hype. He had to come back from humiliation at Madison Square Garden. Tonight, he is the governor. The governor of the division.”

Joshua, meanwhile, said he had never doubted his ability to regain the titles despite his shocking defeat in New York when Ruiz knocked him down four times in one of heavyweight boxing’s greatest upsets.

“I’ve said it was like sitting an exam,” Joshua said. “I failed the exam the first time. This time though I studied, prepared and I just knew I was going to pass.”

Joshua also defended his cagey tactical style, saying he had consciously avoided being sucked into a slugfest against the hard-hitting Ruiz.

“There were times when I looked in Andy’s eyes and I wanted to put my fist through his head,” Joshua said.

“But this is boxing. It’s dangerous. I had a gameplan, I had a strategy and I wanted to follow it through.

“I can knock people out when I want to, and I can box when I want to. Tonight was just about winning.

“If I box for the crowd, or box for other people’s opinions, I might not have been victorious. So I’m just going to follow my instincts and box for myself.”

AFP

UPDATED: Joshua Beats Ruiz, Reclaims Heavyweight Titles

Anthony Joshua celebrates after winning the heavyweight boxing match between Andy Ruiz Jr. and Anthony Joshua for the IBF, WBA, WBO and IBO titles in Diriya, near the Saudi capital on December 7, 2019. Fayez Nureldine / AFP

Anthony Joshua reclaimed his world heavyweight crown from Andy Ruiz on Saturday, outclassing the Mexican-American to score a unanimous points victory.

Joshua, who suffered a stunning knockout defeat to Ruiz in New York in June, produced a masterclass to regain his IBF, WBA and WBO titles in emphatic fashion.

Anthony Joshua celebrates after winning the heavyweight boxing match between Andy Ruiz Jr. Fayez Nureldine / AFP

Dominating from the outset, Joshua won by margins of 118-110 on two scorecards with the third judge making it 119-109.

READ ALSO: Anthony Joshua Vs Andy Ruiz Fight In Photos

Anthony Joshua (white gloves) competes with Andy Ruiz Jr (golden gloves) during the heavyweight boxing match. Fayez Nureldine / AFP

Billed as the “Clash on the Dunes”, the eagerly anticipated rematch marked the first time a world heavyweight title fight has been staged in Saudi Arabia.

And after entering the purpose-built open-air arena at Diriyah, on the outskirts of the Saudi capital, just after midnight, it was Joshua who rose to the occasion with a stylish victory.

The final scores in no way flattered Joshua, who frustrated his heavier opponent with superb movement while picking off Ruiz relentlessly with his jab.

Joshua, badly stung by his defeat to Ruiz at Madison Square Garden, was ecstatic after clinching a one-sided win.

“The first time was so nice, I had to do it twice,” Joshua said as he celebrated becoming a two-time world heavyweight champion.”

The 2012 Olympic champion revealed he had adapted his style after June’s loss to Ruiz when he got drawn into a slugfest before being floored four times on his way to the first loss of his career.

“I’m used to knocking guys out and last time, I realised that I hurt the man but I got caught coming in,” said Joshua, who improved to 23-1, 21 by knockout.

“No excuses, but I said to myself I’m going to correct it and come again.

“I just wanted to put on a great boxing masterclass tonight and also show the sweet science of this lovely sport,” Joshua added. “t’s about hitting and not getting hit.”

Ruiz had shocked onlookers at Friday’s weigh-in by tipping the scales at 283 pounds (128.4 kilograms), fully 15 pounds heavier than his weight in the first fight.

Joshua, by contrast, came in at 237 pounds, his leaner, less bulky physique allowing him to dance around the ring for 12 rounds to leave Ruiz pawing at shadows.

Ruiz admitted he had prepared poorly for the rematch.

“It was his night man,” Ruiz said. “I didn’t prepare as I should of. I gained too much weight. But I don’t want to make excuses, he won, he bossed me around.

“But if we do the third fight you best believe I’m going to get in the best shape of my life.”

Pressed on his excess weight, Ruiz said it had “affected me a lot.”

“I thought I was going to feel stronger and feel better, but on my next fight I’m going to get better prepared.”

AFP

Anthony Joshua Vs Andy Ruiz Fight In Photos

Anthony Joshua (white trunks) competes with Mexican-American boxer Andy Ruiz Jr (golden trunks) during the heavyweight boxing match between Andy Ruiz Jr. and Anthony Joshua for the IBF, WBA, WBO and IBO titles in Diriya, near the Saudi capital on December 7, 2019. Joshua reclaimed his world heavyweight crown from Andy Ruiz, outclassing the Mexican-American to score a unanimous points victory.
AFP

 

Anthony Joshua on Saturday reclaimed his world heavyweight crown from Andy Ruiz Jr on Saturday, outclassing the Mexican-American to score a unanimous points victory.

He produced a boxing masterclass to regain his IBF, WBA and WBO titles in emphatic fashion in Saudi Arabia.

Highlights of the bout are captured in the pictures below:

British boxer Anthony Joshua (white trunks) competes with Mexican-American boxer Andy Ruiz Jr (golden trunks) during the heavyweight boxing match for the IBF, WBA, WBO and IBO titles in Diriya, near the Saudi capital on December 7, 2019. Fayez Nureldine / AFP

 

 

British boxer Anthony Joshua (white gloves) competes with Mexican-American boxer Andy Ruiz Jr (golden gloves) during the heavyweight boxing match between Andy Ruiz Jr. and Anthony Joshua for the IBF, WBA, WBO and IBO titles in Diriya, near the Saudi capital on December 7, 2019. Fayez Nureldine / AFP

Joshua, Ruiz Ready For ‘Clash On The Dunes’

Mexican-American heavyweight boxing champion Andy Ruiz Jr (L) and British heavyweight boxing challenger Anthony Joshua pose during the official weigh-in at Diriyah in the Saudi capital Riyadh, on December 6, 2019, ahead of the upcoming “Clash on the Dunes”. Fayez Nureldine / AFP

 

Anthony Joshua faces the biggest test of his boxing career on Saturday as he attempts to reclaim his world heavyweight crown from Andy Ruiz in a controversial rematch in Saudi Arabia.

Six months after suffering a shock knockout defeat to Ruiz at Madison Square Garden, Joshua will climb back into the ring with Ruiz seeking to win back the IBF, WBA, and WBO titles.

A leaner, meaner Joshua told reporters this week he is “hungry, determined and focused” for a bout that is expected to get under way at around midnight local time (2100 GMT Saturday).

The stakes could not be higher for Joshua, who would face a long road back to the pinnacle of the heavyweight division if he loses a fight being hyped as “Clash on the Dunes.”

Victory, by contrast, would re-establish his credentials in the division, opening the door to money-spinning fights against WBC champion Deontay Wilder or fellow Briton Tyson Fury.

“I am not here to put on a show, I am here to win,” Joshua (22-1, 21 knockouts) said.

Joshua has blamed a “lack of experience” for his defeat to Ruiz in June, when he was knocked down four times en route to a seventh-round stoppage.

For the rematch, the 6ft 6in (1.98m) Joshua has invested heavily in quality sparring partners, hiring boxers of similar stature to the 6ft Ruiz to prepare for the fast-handed Mexican-American.

“We had to bring in hard, rough sparring partners,” Joshua said. “I brought in the toughest and roughest.”

 ‘Punching like a horse’ 

Joshua is also believed to have shed considerable bodyweight for the fight.

In June, Joshua weighed in at 247.8 pounds (112.4 kg) but has said this week he expects to tip the scales significantly lighter, having cut muscle bulk in order to improve his mobility around the ring.

“I may be less than 17 stone (238 pounds),” Joshua said of his expected weight.

“Before I was trying to bench press a house. I used my body to get where I needed but then I started realising the sweet science of the sport,” he said. “I am punching like a horse kicking backwards right now.”

Ruiz, whose slick, swarming combinations rocked Joshua in their first meeting, says he is ready for the Briton’s likely change of tactics.

“I know (Joshua) is going to come with a different game plan, I know he’s prepared and I know he’s motivated,” said Ruiz (33-1, 22 knockouts).

“I know he’s lost weight and will try to box me around, but it’s just my job to prevent that. I’m ready for whatever comes my way.”

Win or lose, Saturday’s eagerly anticipated heavyweight battle could signal the dawn of a new era for boxing.

The rematch will be taking place in a purpose built 15,000-seat arena in Diriyah on the outskirts of the Saudi capital Riyadh.

Saudi Arabia secured the staging rights to the rematch after reportedly offering an astronomical purse to promoters and fighters.

Joshua’s take is reported to be around $60 million while promoters Matchroom Boxing were handed an eye-popping $40 million site fee to award the fight to Saudi Arabia.

Ruiz, who was locked into a rematch at a set figure as a condition of his first meeting with Joshua, is expected to receive $9 million.

 Threatening Las Vegas? 

Matchroom boss Eddie Hearn believes Saudi Arabia has the potential to rival Las Vegas as a venue for boxing’s biggest fights.

“Every boxer and every manager wants to fight here,” Hearn told The Guardian newspaper.

“(Manny) Pacquiao and Canelo (Alvarez) are coming. The talk is (Floyd) Mayweather is too. They want a piece of the action.

“The plan is to make Saudi Arabia the home of mega boxing. All due respect to Las Vegas, but this place has the ability to bring any fight they want here.”

Yet the decision to stage the fight in Saudi Arabia has left the event mired in controversy.

The Saudis faced intense diplomatic fallout over last year’s murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the conservative kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul.

Under de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia has also mounted a sweeping crackdown on dissent which has seen dozens of women activists, journalists and political dissidents jailed during the past two years.

Activists accuse Saudi rulers of using glitzy concerts and sporting extravaganzas as a tool to try and soften their international image, so-called “sportswashing.”

Promoter Hearn has shrugged off the criticism however, insisting that “no-one has the right to tell a fighter how and where they can earn their money.”

AFP

‘Hungry’ Joshua Says No Celebration If He Beats Ruiz

 

Anthony Joshua said Wednesday he will not celebrate if he regains his world heavyweight title, as he faced off with rival Andy Ruiz in a final press conference before their controversial rematch in Saudi Arabia.

Joshua seeks to win back the IBF, WBA and WBO titles that he lost to Ruiz in a shock June defeat in New York in a high-profile duel on Saturday, dubbed “Clash on the Dunes”.

The British boxer said he was “hungry, determined and focused” as he appeared alongside Ruiz in a press conference in Diriyah, close to the Saudi capital Riyadh.

“I am not here to put on a show, I am here to win,” he said.

“When I regain those belts… I am going to keep calm, stay focused. It’s not a time to celebrate. It’s a time to keep that challenger mindset and move on to the next target.”

But Ruiz insisted he would stay unbeaten.

“I made my dreams come true (in New York),” he said.

“There’s no way that I’m going to let these belts go.”

The rematch will take place in Diriyah, home to a UNESCO World Heritage site and a dramatic contrast to the iconic Madison Square Garden which hosted the first fight between the two men which ended in a seventh-round stoppage.

Saturday’s bout is mired in controversy.

The Saudis have faced intense diplomatic fallout over last year’s murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the conservative kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul.

Activists accuse Saudi rulers of using sport as a tool to try and soften their international image.

In February, they hosted a first European Tour golf event while the world’s most gruelling motor sports race, the Dakar Rally, will be held in the country in 2020.