Anthony Joshua isn’t the least bit concerned about whether he’ll assume an unfamiliar role of underdog when he fights Oleksandr Usyk again.
The former IBF/IBO/WBA/WBO heavyweight champion is focused much more on applying the lessons that he learned from his 12-round, unanimous-decision defeat to Usyk on Saturday night in their immediate rematch. England’s Joshua will definitely do a lot of things differently when he squares off against Usyk a second time, perhaps as soon as February or March, according to Joshua’s promoter, Eddie Hearn.
Uysk (19-0, 13 KOs) got off to a strong start against Joshua (24-2, 22 KOs), withstood his huge opponent’s comeback during the middle rounds and became a champion in a second division. All three judges – Viktor Fesechko (117-112), Steve Weisfeld (116-112) and Howard Foster (115-113) – respectively credited the unbeaten Ukrainian southpaw for winning nine, eight and seven rounds at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London.
The 31-year-old Joshua understands that he’ll have to employ a smarter strategy to win the shot at redemption Usyk is contractually obligated to grant him.
“I don’t look at it kinda like underdog and whatnot,” Joshua stated during his post-fight press conference. “If you know me, I’m not fussed about – I always say that the belts don’t represent me, I represent myself. So, underdog or champion is what it is. But I’m just looking to go in there improved, stronger, smarter, and yeah, I believe I’ll get a good win in the next fight because of what I learned in this fight. I’m a quick learner and we’ll bounce back.”
Rob McCracken, Joshua’s longtime trainer, also discussed the areas in which Joshua must improve in order to win their second fight. After guiding Joshua toward avenging his first loss to Andy Ruiz Jr. in their immediate rematch, McCracken is confident that his fighter can regain his titles when he encounters Usyk again.
“There’s no drawing board, to be honest,” McCracken said. “You’ve gotta apply pressure behind your jab and your right hand, and you gotta keep him off balance and you gotta put shots together when you get there. But as we seen [Saturday night], Usyk’s a very good boxer. But look, you know, Anthony’s already addressed that he’s learning on the job and, you know, he showed that in the Ruiz rematch.
“And I’ve got no doubts that if, you know, he applies himself, which he will, that, you know, you’ll get a great performance in the rematch. Because Usyk’s boxed tremendously well [Saturday night], and Anthony will have learned loads tonight. You know, you’ve gotta apply better pressure with a fighter like that and not give him too much time. And that’s really what should happen.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.