Oleksandr Usyk has admitted that his first fight against Anthony Joshua was difficult.
The Ukrainian captured the WBA Super, IBF, WBO and IBO heavyweight titles last September as he outpointed the Olympic champion at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London.
Usyk controlled the centre of the ring, landed the heavier shots and was the more technical boxer of the two on the night, getting the decision unanimously.
And as the former undisputed cruiserweight king prepares for his August 20 rematch against ‘AJ’ – who now has Robert Garcia in his corner having split from long-time mentor Robert McCracken – he has looked back at the first fight and revealed it was more challenging than it first appeared.
Usyk told Boxing Scene:
“It was a really difficult fight for me.”
“Everybody keeps saying it was an easy walk, but 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 is, like Joshua, an Olympic gold medallist. He was a star amateur and prior to his rise to the top of the heavyweight division, he beat everyone at cruiserweight, including going to take on every champion on away soil en route to clinching every title and becoming undisputed.
After his win over Joshua, the 35-year-old decided to enter the Ukrainian military in the war against Russia in February, but he then left to start the preparations for his return against the two-time champion Joshua, which takes place in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
“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.”