Anthony Joshua has apologised for his post-fight outburst after failing to regain his world titles.
The 32-year-old was on the wrong end of a split decision as he bid to become a three-time unified global ruler.
Joshua, who is now 24-3 with 22 quick finishes, lost the WBA Super, IBF, IBO and WBO titles to former undisputed cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk in September last year and decided to go in with him again.
The rematch took place exclusively live on Sky Sports Box Office in the UK and DAZN in more than 190 territories, at the Jeddah Superdome in Saudi Arabia.
Usyk, now 20-0 (13 KOs), picked up the Ring Magazine title that was recently relinquished by Tyson Fury – the WBC champion who he called out in the aftermath – after tallies of 116-112, 115-113 and 113-115 were handed in by the three ringside judges.
It was a much-improved performance from ‘AJ’, who had new trainer Robert Garcia in the corner for the first time, as he showed some signs of getting back to his old, aggressive self – but it just wasn’t enough to come out on top against the master Ukrainian technician, who dedicated the win to his war-torn country.
But afterwards, an emotional Joshua firstly stormed out of the ring before returning, chucking away a couple of the belts and then taking the microphone to give an odd speech to the crowd.
“I am giving you my story.
“I was going to jail. I got bailed and started training my arse off, because if I got sentenced then I would not have been able to fight.
“I could have done better, but it showed the hard work he must have put in to beat me. This guy is a phenomenal talent, how many belts you got bro, five? We are going to cheer for him. Hip-hip, hooray!
“I studied all your champions, what’s happening there, I don’t know, but I know it’s not nice. There were issues in Ukraine. Klitschko vs Williams. Usyk, under those circumstances, became champ.
“I’m not a 12-round fighter. I am a new breed of heavyweight, Mike Tyson, Sonny Liston – they say ‘he doesn’t throw combinations like Rocky Marciano,’ because I’m not 14 stone. I am 18 stone, I am heavy.”
Anthony Joshua throws two belts out of the ring as he loses temper after defeat to Oleksandr Usyk. 😲😲 pic.twitter.com/PHDIe2FWGh
— Sky Sports Boxing (@SkySportsBoxing) August 20, 2022
But after the event, Joshua explained the behaviour, fighting back tears at the post-fight presser.
“I’m upset deep down in my heart.”
“I was mad at myself. Not at anyone, just at myself. So I thought I’ve got to get out of here because I’m mad. Like anyone when you’re angry, you might do stupid things.
“Then I realised, this is sport. Let me do the right thing.
“There’s a little crack in that armour. Because I took a loss and I think you just saw me upset.
“I’m a fighter, I’m not a normal person, even though I try to hold it together.
“I was just in war mode.”