‘Joshua knows he must beat Usyk in rematch to save career’
‘We were born to compete’
Anthony Joshua faced Oleksandr Usyk at the final press conference ahead of their high stakes rematch on Saturday and vowed he must win after September’s loss to the Ukrainian, reports skysports.com.
Usyk delivered an assured performance over 12 rounds last year to outpoint Joshua and win the WBO, WBA and IBF heavyweight titles.
It leaves Joshua in an unusual position, that of the challenger. He will have to walk first to the ring on Saturday night and Usyk, the new champion, made him wait for his arrival at the start of their press conference at the Shangri La hotel in Jeddah yesterday too.
Usyk says that Saturday will see a great fight between him and Joshua after having time to study each other. Joshua knows his place at the top of the heavyweight division depends on this fight. He insisted he cannot afford to lose.
“That’s it. Must win,” he said.
“I like the pressure,” Joshua continued. “It’s been tough. [Now] just get the job done. Instinct, stay focused, get the job done, God willing, victorious.”
Joshua says he’s fully focused on Usyk ahead of their upcoming clash, insisting that it’s a ‘must win.’
“It’s competition,” he said of his motivation. “I’ve got goals I want to achieve in the ring on the night. That’s competition with myself. You’ve got to have a competitive spirit.”
Usyk is similarly inspired. “We were born to compete for life, for belts, for everything. The one who does not compete does not live,” he said.
“All our lives are competition, for anything, for something, for somebody. That’s why we are competing.” Joshua loomed over him in their final face-off, but Usyk was undaunted. In fact, as Joshua departed the stage, the Ukrainian, with a smile on his face, burst into song.
Both fighters are ready. The 12 rounds they shared last year will make for a more closely contested fight in the rematch as they now know and understand each other’s tactics.
“It’s true,” Usyk said. “We learned (about) each other in the last fight. He learned me. I learned him.”
However, the Ukrainian intends to pick up where he left off – in the ascendancy.
“I don’t think it’s going to be a ‘new’ bout,” he said. “The last bout will be continued for round 13, 14, 15, whatever it’s going to last.
“We’ve had enough to study each other and this Saturday night it will be a great, great fight.” Both fighters can be counted on to be extraordinarily well prepared.
“Definitely, it was a great experience,” Joshua’s new trainer Robert Garcia said. “I think he’s peaked at the right moment.
“The team did their job. (Anthony) did what he was supposed to do. We’re ready, we’re ready to do it. It was a challenge, obviously, coming off a loss and getting to do the game plan.
“At the end, the job was done. Anthony himself followed instruction and now the only thing in his mind is to become champion again.”
Usyk’s team gave an insight into the extremes the champion pushed himself to in camp.
“I’ve never seen anybody in 45 degrees heat ride a bicycle for 100 kilometres. I’ve never seen anybody swimming the day before the press conference in London for 10 kilometres in the pool for five hours. I’ve never seen anybody holding his breath under water for four minutes and 40 seconds, almost passing away,” his manager Egis Klimas revealed. “Then I asked him, ‘What’s wrong with you?’
“He said, ‘I know I have a trainer behind me, he’s not going to let me drown. He’s going to pull me out!’” Both fighters go in with a win-at-all costs attitude. Which of them prevails can only be decided on Saturday night.