Anthony Joshua feels he ‘let a lot of people down’ in Oleksandr Usyk losses as he targets comeback win


Anthony Joshua has admitted he felt he “let a lot of people down” after his back-to-back defeats to Oleksandr Usyk but says his heart fully remains in the sport.

Joshua takes on American James Franklyn on April 1 at the O2 Arena in London in his first bout since his split-decision loss to Usyk in August 2022.

The British heavyweight failed to recapture the IBF, WBA and WBO titles he lost to the Ukrainian a year earlier.


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Joshua was forced to take stock of his career, and hired a new coach in the highly regarded Derrick James as well as basing his training camp in Texas ahead of the Franklyn fight,

“I didn’t come here for a holiday and to chill out,” Joshua told Tony Bellew on the BBC.

“I’ve come here for a goal. I want to get better, I want to challenge myself.”

Joshua won his first 22 professional fights, but following his first loss against Andy Ruiz Jr in 2019, the 33-year-old has a 2-3 record from his last five matches.

The recent slump has seen him fall from the top of the heavyweight picture, with much talked about super fights with Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder now in doubt.

Following the defeat to Usyk in their rematch in Jeddah, a visibly frustrated Joshua threw two of the championship belts out of the ring before launching into an emotional rant on the microphone.

“When I fought Usyk I felt like I let a lot of people down,” he said. “People said, ‘his mind ain’t in it, where’s his head at? His head’s not in the game’.

“That’s not the truth – my heart’s in the game, fully. This is all I have, really.”

Joshua felt that his career and prolonged period in the spotlight made things difficult and that his uncharacteristic behaviour following the Usyk fight was a reaction to that.

“It’s been tough,” he said. “The expectation that’s been on my back where it’s like, ‘represent this, stand up for that, smile this place, carry this baby and smile’. That’s why it hit me when I didn’t win.”

Joshua claims he is “starting fresh” and he is adjusting his focus to try and improve, and hopefully return to the summit of the sport.

“Now I’m just saying I’m starting fresh. So by the time I finish, training for example, when I’m at home doing ice baths, I’m able to relax and shut off.

“I remember [Saul] Canelo [Alvarez] said something, what made him successful was when he left the gym, he’ll be thinking about what his coach taught him that day.

“He’ll be overplaying it in his mind, shadow-boxing, and that’s how he managed to get to the next level.

“When I leave the gym here, my mind is still on my job.

“It’s not just about ‘is your head in it?’ My heart is in it. It’s not just about the dough, you have to love it. Because it’s not normal.”

“What can I learn in eight weeks? You’ll find out. My goal is to beat whoever is in front of me.”


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Warren: Fury v Usyk fight a ‘dead duck’ now

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