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Joshua finally congratulates Usyk, wishes champion more success

By Guardian Nigeria
23 August 2022   |   5:49 am
Anthony Joshua acknowledged on Sunday night that he let himself down with his erratic behaviour in the immediate aftermath of his thrilling defeat by Oleksandr Usyk in Saudi Arabia...

JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA – AUGUST 21: Anthony Joshua (R) of Great Britain congrats the winner Oleksandr Usyk (L) of Ukraine after boxing rematch under the name of “Rage in the Red Sea” as he retains world title at King Abdullah Sports Complex in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on August 21, 2022. Ayman Yaqoob / Anadolu Agency (Photo by Ayman Yaqoob / ANADOLU AGENCY / Anadolu Agency via AFP)

Anthony Joshua acknowledged on Sunday night that he let himself down with his erratic behaviour in the immediate aftermath of his thrilling defeat by Oleksandr Usyk in Saudi Arabia, saying he had acted “out of pure passion and emotion,” reports morningstaronline.co.uk.

After losing a split decision in the fight in Jeddah, a furious Joshua stalked towards the changing room before returning to the ring, grabbing Usyk’s WBA and Ring Magazine belts and dropping them outside the ropes.

The 32-year-old then confronted Usyk, saying, “you’re not strong, how did you beat me? How? I had character and determination,” before addressing the crowd with a confused rant about his past and his own shortcomings as a boxer.

Taking to Twitter on Sunday evening, Joshua posted: “I wish [Usyk] continued success in your quest for greatness. You are a class act, champ.

“Yesterday I had to mentally take myself into a dark place to compete for the championship belts! I had two fights, one with Usyk and one with my emotions and both got the better of me.

“I’ll be the first to admit, I let myself down. I acted out of pure passion and emotion and when not controlled, it ain’t great.

“I love this sport so so much and I’ll be better from this point on. Respect.”Ex-pro Carl Froch had accused Joshua of stealing Usyk’s moment while his gym mate and sparring partner Frazer Clarke said he should have been “saved from himself” by his team, who “hung him out to dry.”

Hours after the end of the fight, as he reflected on a third professional defeat that places him on the periphery of the heavyweight division’s elite, Joshua choked back the tears before holding his head in his hands to mask his anguish.

Once he had regained composure, he attempted to explain actions that have drawn heavy criticism.

“It was just from the heart. I was mad at myself. Not at anyone, just at myself. I’ve gotta get out of here because I’m mad,” Joshua said.

Joshua was transformed from the fighter who surrendered the WBA, IBF and WBO belts to Usyk in London last September but was still outpointed 113-115, 115-113, 116-112 by the Ukrainian southpaw.

Usyk’s movement, hand speed, ring craft and work rate underpinned an impressive victory, which came after serving as a military volunteer in Kiev following Russia’s invasion of his homeland.

“What you saw was raw emotion. A real person who was feeling the pressure and who wanted to win so badly,” said promoter Eddie Hearn, as he addressed the negativity that has stalked Joshua’s career.

“You live in an online world where it’s opinion, stick, abuse. He will never tell you that he sees that pressure or feels it, but it’s impossible not to.

“I just want AJ to be happy. He’s given his whole life since he started boxing and people don’t realise what a bubble it is.”