Anthony Joshua

Oleksandr Usyk vs Anthony Joshua 2: Ukrainian admits their first fight was ‘really difficult’

Oleksandr Usyk insists Anthony Joshua is a formidable opponent after admitting their first fight was ‘really difficult’.

Usyk goes head-to-head with Joshua next month in a highly-anticipated rematch at the Jeddah Superdome in Saudi Arabia on August 20.

Last September, the Ukrainian left ‘AJ’ stunned when he outclassed him at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, winning a unanimous decision and with it, the WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO heavyweight world titles.

Usyk has won all 19 of his professional fights including 13 via stoppage with Joshua coming out on top in all but two of his bouts, winning 22 by knockout.

But Usyk, who became just the third man after Evander Holyfield and David Haye to win world titles at cruiserweight and heavyweight, says he didn’t have it all his own way.

In a frank interview with Boxing Scene, he admitted: “It was a really difficult fight for me.

“Everybody keeps saying it was an easy walk, but, no, 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, 35, joined several other high-profile athletes, including Vasyl Lomachenko, Wladimir Klitschko and Vitali Klitschko, in taking up arms to defend his country during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

But in March, the southpaw was given special permission to leave the war effort and start his training camp ahead of his rematch with Joshua.

Usyk, also the former undisputed cruiserweight world champion, has set up his own foundation to offer support to those who have been affected since the conflict began on February 24.

And he revealed that his wife decided not to join him in Poland after instead opting to stay in Ukraine.

He added: “All I did was just pray.1 of 20oleksandr-usyk-quiz-boxing

Who was the first British fighter Oleksandr Usyk faced as a professional?

Tony BellewDerek ChisoraAnthony JoshuaJoe Joyce

“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.

“Even my wife, I wanted to send her and my kids out of Ukraine, but she said she would not go.

“[She said,] ‘I would not go and that’s it.’”

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