Oleksandr Usyk vows to be “better” in rematch with Anthony Joshua
By Barry Holbrook: Anthony Joshua will have a more challenging time recapturing his lost IBF, WBA & WBO heavyweight titles, this time against champion Oleksandr Usyk than when he won back his three straps against an overweight Andy Ruiz Jr. in 2019.
Usyk (19-0, 13 KOs) is vowing to work harder to be stronger and better than when he dethroned IBF/WBA/WBO champion Joshua by a 12 round unanimous decision last month on September 25th in London, England.
With the way Usyk finished strong in the twelfth round, he’s got to feel confident about going into the rematch with Joshua in early 2022.
Usyk could have stopped Joshua
One got the sense that Usyk could have knocked Joshua out at any time during the championship rounds. Joshua looked like this era’s version of Frank Bruno in getting dominated by Usyk in a fight that was no longer competitive in the later rounds.
Usyk came in with a better game plan, tactics and he implemented them perfectly. In the 12th round, Usyk got in the trenches with Joshua and hurt him in the final seconds, and him close to being stopped.
There is debate whether the timekeeper rang the bell six seconds early for the 12th round. If it’s true that the round ended six seconds early, it might have saved Joshua from being knocked out.
At the very least, it saved Joshua from going down because he looked helpless against the ropes in taking withering fire from Usyk..
“The performance against AJ was a good Oleksandr Usyk, but I will be even better next time,” said Usyk to DAZN. “I don’t feel any limitations, and I will be stronger and faster next time.
“You always have to crush your limits with work ethic, ambition, and hard work. Move ahead, and don’t let anyone stop you.”
“My team was the key,” said Usyk. “I had to stick to the strategy of making pressure, keeping the pace up until the end.
“The most important thing is to keep the concentration, and keeping the pressure up and staying concentrated,” Usyk said.
You can understand why Usyk feels he’ll be better in the rematch because he knows Joshua’s tendencies. Like fellow Ukrainian Vasily Lomachenko, Usyk has done his download and knows how to beat Joshua easier next time.
Did the 12th round end 6 seconds early?
“In the third round, he should have gone for it, and he shook him up a little bit,” said Teddy Atlas on The Fight Game With Teddy Atlas about Usyak missing a chance to stop Joshua in the third.
“Then again, he [Usyk might have been cheated out of six seconds at the end [in round 12] because there’s a video floating around that his manager Egis Klimas put out that seems to show that six seconds were taken off the clock somehow.
“His [Usyk] manager put out a video that seems to show that the bell rang six seconds early, and he had him [Joshua] in trouble against the ropes. Joshua was mixing his head trying to survive, and he did survive.
“Joshua missed the boat. He didn’t have a good game plan. It seemed like his game plan was to go in there and be the bigger guy, land the right hand and go home. There wasn’t enough to it, and that hurt him. Usyk had a better game plan,” Atlas said.
Whether intentional or not, the 12th round ending six seconds early may have saved Joshua from suffering an embarrassing knockout.
Coming from a knockout would have been worse for Joshua. Not to mention, it would have hurt his career because it’s more humiliating getting stopped than being beaten by a decision.
Were the judges trying to rob Usyk?
“He missed the boat, Joshua, by not going to the body more,” said Atlas. “There was one round where he went to the body, and it affected the smaller man.
“There’s no better way in an area against a smaller man than going to the smaller man’s body, and I thought he should have.
“It would have slowed him [Usyk] down a little bit and made Usyk a little easier to catch. He didn’t use his jab enough by snapping it to the chest.
“The judges may have tried to rob the guy [Usyk] maybe because I thought in the first three rounds Usyk won easy, and they gave rounds to Joshua. It was ‘Be friendly to a Brit day.’
“I thought Joshua won his first round in the fourth, and then I thought it was back and forth a little bit.
“I thought Usyk was never behind. It was always Joshua trying to catch up, but he was evening it up. He caught up, and it was even. He never allowed Joshua to keep the momentum; that was the key. Usyk knew how to win, and that’s a talent.
“That was a trait that he [Usyk] had going in, and people downplayed it. People didn’t even look at it, to be honest.
“He knew how to win. Finally, around the ninth round, he took the momentum, he just took control and swept those last three rounds, and he almost stopped him. ‘He’ being Usyk, obviously,” said Atlas.
It’s troubling that one judge had Joshua winning three of the first four rounds. It’s bizarre even to imagine Joshua being given three of the first four rounds against Usyk, but that’s how one of the British judges scored it.
For that reason, you can understand why Usyk would want the rematch with Joshua to take place in Kyiv, Ukraine, rather than back in England, where AJ’s promoter Eddie Hearn wants to stage it.
Did we overrate Joshua?
“Do we give all the credit to Usyk? I do. But do we say that the pundits and experts out there overrated Joshua? Maybe. When we look at the record, who did he beat? He beat a 40-year-old Klitschko, and he got dropped by him and got off the floor.
“I give him all the credit in the world because Klitschko could punch with that right hand even at 40. He got up off the floor, and he stopped Klitschko. Klitschko had been knocked out four times, but he was the most dominant heavyweight for ten years.
“But who has he [Joshua] beaten? He got knocked out by Ruiz, and he came back and redeemed himself against Ruiz; he did. And he also struggled with Joseph Parker. That should have been a prewarning, and it was to me.
“How good was Joshua? Usyk was good, and maybe too many people built him [Joshua] up. All hats off to Usyk. He goes over there to enemy territory, and he beats the guy up, beats the judges, and beats everyone up.
“Then he’s gracious about it. He’s a good man, and he’s a man easy to root for. He’s a winner,” said Atlas.
The writing has been on the wall that fans and the media have overrated Joshua for a long, long time.
For boxing fans that had their eyes open, they noticed when Joshua fought Dillian Whyte in 2o15 that he wasn’t the guy that many thought he was. Whyte had Joshua legitimately hurt in the second round after clipping him with a left hook to the head.
From there, Joshua looked bad against Wladimir Klitschko and barely escaped being knocked out. Carlos Takam had Joshua hurt, and so did Alexander Povetkin.
In Joshua’s fight with Joseph Parker, the referee ran interference, keeping the New Zealander off.
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