Joshua: Beating Usyk will give me ‘legend’ status

Anthony Joshua acknowledged that “change needs to happen” ahead of his rematch with Oleskandr Usyk for the unified heavyweight championship on August 20 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

The two-time world champion was defeated by Usyk by unanimous decision when they met in London in September. In the aftermath of the lopsided loss, Joshua parted ways with his former trainer, Robert McCracken, and now works with Robert Garcia.

Joshua (24-2, 22 KOs) is no stranger to title rematches, of course. He was stopped by Andy Ruiz Jr. in round 7 in June 2019 on ESPN’s Upset of the Year. The British star regained all three of his titles by unanimous decision in Riydah, Saudi Arabia, six months later.

“I feel like when I go and beat Usyk, I’ll get the credit I deserve again,” Joshua, 32, told ESPN. “And I’ll get the admiration for being a true boxing legend… I fought for the heavyweight championship in my 16th fight, I felt like I missed it.”

“This is my 12th straight title fight,” he added. “…I feel like sometimes even though we’re packing stadiums and it’s nice to be popular, I don’t really care about those things. I just want respect in the division.”

Certainly a win over Usyk (19-0, 13 KOs) would give him that. A former undisputed cruiserweight champion, Usyk is ESPN’s No. 2 heavyweight and No. 6 pound-for-pound fighter. Unlike Ruiz, who moved up to 283.5 pounds for the rematch, Usyk appeared chiseled at Tuesday’s opening press conference in Jeddah.

The 35-year-old Ukrainian is a masterful boxer who is adept at controlling distance with his excellent footwork and jab. And Joshua knows exactly what he’s up against.

“It makes me feel more comfortable knowing that I’ve been in a ring with a fighter before, but in the end it could be completely different,” said Joshua, who like Usyk, captured a gold medal at the 2012 Olympics. .. I definitely feel like my training approach changes because I knew where I wasn’t good enough, you know, areas where I was exposed.

“And look, I have a… third chance to become heavyweight champion of the world… I’m not going to go in thinking it’s going to be easy. I’m going to address the weaknesses and then make sure I get it right and become champion again. I think it’s a task that is definitely possible.”

Joshua, the ESPN No. 4 heavyweight, owns wins over Joseph Parker, Alexander Povetkin and, most notably, Hall of Famer Wladimir Klitschko. However, a win over Usyk would easily register as his biggest achievement yet.

“Now, it’s about, ‘oh, he’s not good enough anyway,’ so that’s the motivation to prove I’m good enough,” Joshua said. “Because when you’re doing it and you’re on top, it’s hard to get the credit.”

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Joshua: Beating Usyk will give me ‘legend’ status

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