Oleksandr Usyk does not agree with the notion that his unanimous points win over Anthony Joshua last year was a total breeze.
While Usyk wrested the WBO, WBA, IBO and IBF heavyweight titles in largely dominant fashion over Joshua at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London in September, the Ukrainian heavyweight clarified in a recent interview that Joshua proved to be a formidable foe.
The proof? After the fight, at the hotel, Usyk said he dozed off while still sitting up.
“It was a really difficult fight for me,” Usyk said. “Everybody keeps saying it was an easy walk, but, no, it wasn’t. It was a hard fight for him and for me. After the fight I came back to the hotel and I took some food and I fall asleep sitting [up].”
Usyk’s southpaw straight lefts, nimble footwork, and feints kept Joshua off-kilter the entire night of their 12-round affair. At times, Joshua even looked completely befuddled. Toward the end of the 12th-round, Usyk was rocking the British star left and right with power punches. The comprehensiveness of Usyk’s victory understandably lent the perception that Usyk had coasted to victory. While Usyk, a former undisputed champion at cruiserweight, commanded the action, his face reflected the type of damage he absorbed from the bigger Joshua.
The long-awaited heavyweight rematch between Usyk (19-0, 13 KOs) and Joshua (24-2, 22 KOs) is scheduled for Aug. 20 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on DAZN Pay-Per-View.
The rematch, originally scheduled for the spring, almost did not happen. The Russian invasion of Ukraine, in February, compelled Usyk to return to his country and enlist in the military. After several weeks, however, Usyk, due to the incessant prodding of his friends and countrymen, decided he could be more use to his country by defending his titles than, say, sitting in the basement of a building.
“All I did was just pray,” Usyk said. “I did not want to leave Ukraine, but I visited my friends in the military and I visited them in the hospital. All of them were asking me to participate in this fight, to take the rematch and to fight for the whole country of Ukraine. Even my wife, I wanted to send her and my kids out of Ukraine, but she said she would not go. [She said,] ‘I would not go and that’s it.’”