Anthony Joshua figured out a way to return to prominence the last time he was in his position.
The 2012 Olympic Gold medalist and two-time, unified WBA/IBF/WBO/IBO heavyweight titlist once again found himself as a former champ following a twelve-round, unanimous decision loss to Oleksandr Usyk (19-0, 13KOs). The upset defeat came in front of a capacity crowd of 66,267 on hand at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London for Saturday’s Sky Sports Box Office, the majority of which were left in stunned silence following the outcome.
Joshua congratulated Usyk before exiting the ring to the dressing room in order to immediately treat his badly bruised right eye, citing impaired vision from round nine through the end of the fight. As was the case in the aftermath of his shocking knockout loss to Andy Ruiz in their first fight in June 2019, the former two-time titlist will focus more on how to reclaim his belts.
“I’m not going to hold myself down from the mistake I made,” Joshua told reporters while in his dressing room following the fight. “I’m only going to uplift myself. It was a tough fight. From that fight, I’m going to find ways to improve. It’s for myself.”
A similar approach was taken following Joshua’s stunning seventh-round knockout loss to Ruiz at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The night marked the U.S. debut for England’s Joshua (24-2, 22KOs) and his first pro fight outside of the United Kingdom. The second fight away from home came six months later, when Joshua boxed his way to a lopsided, twelve-round decision win over Ruiz in their December 2019 rematch in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia.
The approach heading into the rematch was simply concentrating on means to restore past glory rather than downplay what went wrong in their first fight. Joshua remained the consummate professional following his defeat to Ukraine’s Usyk, congratulating the unbeaten southpaw before heading to the dressing room where medical staff could tend to his badly swollen right eye.
Once given clearance to return to the gym and resume training, Joshua and his team—anchored by head trainer and former middleweight title contender Rob McCracken—will devise the best-laid plan toward becoming a three-time heavyweight titlist. There is little left to be done in the interim other than acknowledge what took place in the ring.
“[It] wasn’t my night,” lamented Joshua. “Well done to my opponent. I’ll get back to the drawing board and get it right the next time when we go again.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox