Anthony Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn says he’s “fuming” over his loss to Oleksandr Usyk last Saturday night, and he wants to get right back in there “NOW” to get revenge for his defeat.
Hearn says he mentioned to Joshua (24-2, 22 KOs) Top Rank promoter Bob Arum’s comments about wanting to have him step aside so that WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury can face IBF/WBA/WBO champion Usyk (19-0, 13 KOs) for the undisputed championship.
According to Hearn, Joshua looked like he wanted to “chin” him when he told him about Arum wanting him to step aside. Joshua believes that he can beat Usyk in the rematch by being his old aggressive self and going on the attack more.
Joshua has already activated the rematch clause in his contract with Usyk, and the two will be fighting in February or March next year. Hearn has already ruled out fighting Usyk in Ukraine, and he wants the fight back in the UK.
Hearn wants Joshua to revert back
“He made Joshua fight in a way he shouldn’t have,” said Eddie Hearn to Boxing Social. “AJ felt like he could outbox Oleksandr Usyk, and people say he couldn’t.
“I watched it back, and for eight or nine rounds, he [Joshua] was doing OK with that style. It’s not his style, and many of the trainers were saying, ‘That’s not AJ.’
“The problem is, when you tell AJ that’s not him, he almost wants to show you that he can do that as well. He can box.
“Can you imagine if he boxed in that style back when he fought Dillian? He would have lost every second of every round, but he’s still technically not as good as Oleksandr Usyk. That’s the reality.
“Guess what? Usyk can’t punch near as hard as Joshua and doesn’t throw combinations like Joshua. But everyone has got their attributes.
“A lot of people say, ‘He’s stuck between styles and all that. I think he needs to revert back to what made him what he was,’ and obviously, that is a style that could beat Oleksandr Usyk.
“The style that he adopted nine times out of ten doesn’t beat Oleksandr Usyk. He stands firm when he says, ‘I don’t just think it’s a case of going in there and being reckless. I think I need to be ten times more aggressive than I was. I need to back him up,” said Hearn.
It will be difficult for Joshua to revert to the aggressive style that he once had because he can’t fight like that against Usyk. Joshua was able to unload because he was facing a lot of old guys and fighters that weren’t skilled.
AJ’s best opponents:
- Alexander Povetkin – 40-years-old
- Wladimir Klitschko – 40-years-old
- Dillian Whyte – injured left shoulder
- Kubrat Pulev – 40-years-old
- Andy Ruiz Jr
- Oleksandr Usyk
- Joseph Parker
- Carlos Takam
- Charles Martin
- Dominic Breazeale
- Eric Molina
The best guys that Joshua had fought, besides Usyk, were old and over-the-hill. So, of course, Joshua was able to load up on his shots against them without the worry of being countered or knocked out, but he couldn’t do that against a skilled technician like Usyk.
Hearn is kidding himself if he thinks Joshua will be able to revert to the fighter he was in the past offensively in the rematch with Usyk because he’s not fighting an old shot guy.
Joshua didn’t hit Usyk with his best shots
“I saw an interview where Usyk said, ‘He hurt me badly, and I went to space and came back as Elon Musk,’ which is another great Usyk quote,” said Hearn.
“He [Joshua] didn’t even hit him. He hit him with a couple of backhands that were probably 30 or 40% of his power shots and a couple of decent body shots, but nothing.
“Joshua had to be frustrated and thinking, ‘Wow!’ I could see that Usyk was hurt, but he didn’t hit him anywhere near to the brutality that he’s capable of. But it’s easier said than done. You’ve still got to do it.
“Before he learned how to improve as a boxer, he was already unified heavyweight world champion, and he’d already beaten Wladimir Klitschko before he really learned the true fundamentals of professional boxing,” said Hearn about Joshua.
“Sometimes you got to simplify things by saying, ‘Look where you got to by doing things as you were with willpower and brutal combination punching.’ I said, ‘The great thing is, you’ve added so many dimensions to your game and your ability, but we need that guy that’s still there one million percent, but don’t overthink things,'” said Hearn about Joshua.
There were a few big shots that Joshua hit Usyk with that were as hard as any he’s landed in the past against his opponents, but he couldn’t hit him often enough.
Yeah, Joshua didn’t hit Usyk with the same kinds of punches he did in his last fight against Kubrat Pulev, but he was a much better fighter.
Joshua has been able to load up on his shots in most of his fights because he’s faced defensively weak opposition. Against a quality heavyweight like Usyk, Joshua couldn’t land his shots. As a result, he had to take a lot of the steam off his punches to increase his chances of connecting.
In the rematch with Usyk, Joshua won’t tee off the way Hearn wants him to without missing and getting picked apart by the Ukrainian.
AJ will be a different fighter in the rematch
“That was always the danger, and he [Joshua] did overthink things. Unquestionably, he overthought things,” said Hearn. “It’s too much respect.
“He’s really, really kicking himself. I was with him for three hours yesterday. I asked him, ‘Do you want the rematch with Oleksandr Usyk?’
“And he looked at me like he wanted to strangle me and said, ‘You know I do.’ I said that I’d seen Bob Arum’s comments about [wanting Joshua to step aside so that Tyson Fury could face Usyk].
“He looked like he wanted to jump over the table and chin me. It’s everything to him.
“It’s a huge challenge for him, and he will be a different fighter in the rematch. It’s a tough fight, underdog, the first time in his career,” said Hearn.
It’s easy for Hearn to say that Joshua will be a different fighter in the rematch, but it’s very likely he’ll only make minimal changes, if any, to his game.
If Joshua aggressively fights Usyk, he’s going to be at risk of gassing. Joshua does NOT want to gas out against a fighter like Usyk, as he’ll unload on in the same way he did in the 12th round last Saturday night.
If Joshua shows signs of weariness, Usyk’s trainer Anatoliy Lomachenko will spot it, and he’ll direct him to go for the kill. Usyk follows his instructions from Lomachenko well, and he’ll be like a machine attacking the fatigued Joshua.
Joshua is fuming
“If all of us thought he shouldn’t take the rematch, he’d still take the rematch because that’s all he wants to do,” said Hearn in discussing how determined Joshua is to avenge his loss to Oleksandr Usyk.
“The main reason we take the rematch are number 1: We believe he can beat him. Number 2: We know he can do so much better than that. Number 3: It’s a chance to win the world heavyweight championship, and number 4: Sometimes, you never get a chance at these titles, and with the politics in boxing, they might choose to freeze him out. Number 5: He doesn’t want to take an easy fight, a 10-rounder to get a bit of confidence. That’s not where he’s at with his career.
“It’s the only option, not because there’s nowhere left to go. It’s just because that’s all we’re interested in. To put him in any other fight, a 10-rounder, he couldn’t be less interested.
“He wants to go straight back into the jugular with Oleksandr Usyk, and I’d like for him to take the fight right now because he’s fuming.
“That’s the mentality he’s got to have to go into this fight. It’s a very difficult fight, but it’s never been discussed any other fight,” said Hearn.
Joshua will have to settle down because his rematch with Usyk won’t be happening anytime soon.
At best, we’re looking at five months that Joshua will need until he can challenge Usyk in February, but the fight might get pushed to March 2022.
Instead of being angry about the loss, the second in Joshua’s last four fights, he should realize that he’s making mental errors by fighting the wrong way.
Against Andy Ruiz Jr in their first fight in June 2019, Joshua was reckless with the way he attacked him without keeping his guard up. In his fight with Usyk, Joshua needed to fight aggressively in the way he used to.