Joshua has insisted that despite his recent comprehensive defeat by Usyk, Wladimir Klitschko was the toughest opponent he has ever faced, with ‘AJ’ claiming the fight was ‘too early’ despite his victory
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Anthony Joshua believes Wladimir Klitschko is the toughest opponent he has faced in his boxing career, despite losing his belt to Oleksandr Usyk last year.
The British star suffered his second career defeat in a mandatory title defense against the Ukrainian last year. He had already been beaten by Andy Ruiz Jr. in 2019, but later took revenge for his defeat by outpointing the Mexican in Saudi Arabia.
However, Joshua claims his fight with Klitschko came “too early” in his boxing career, making the epic bout his toughest test yet. “The toughest opponent I’ve ever come across would definitely be Wladimir Klitschko,” Joshua said during a Q&A with Oxford Union. “Passing the guard. The young lion versus the old lion. When I fought him I thought it was definitely too soon, but it was his last fight.
“So if I hadn’t fought him it would have been too late so it was risk versus reward and I thought boxing needed it. Sometimes, for lack of experience, we make it harder than it sometimes has to be. He’s definitely had more knockouts on his tally than I’ve got fights and knockouts combined. He’s experienced and very strong and it was a tough fight.
“Before that period I was KOing guys in six rounds and seven rounds. Wladimir took me 11 rounds to a place I’ve never been before but he was definitely my strongest.”
Joshua fought Klitschko at Wembley Stadium in front of a then-record crowd of 90,000 fans. Joshua was knocked down for the first time in his career but managed to rally in the penultimate round to ensure his rival’s career ended in defeat.
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However, Usyk proposed a much more significant test for Joshua that failed to dent his challenger. Usyk comprehensively beat the two-time champion who lost his unified titles in London.
The 32-year-old was heavily criticized for his tactical approach to the fight, with many pointing out that he failed to use his signature aggression and power. The Brit now has an opportunity to avenge his recent defeat this summer with the rematch, which is expected to take place in Saudi Arabia on July 23.
He has admitted he will come to his final test with a structured game plan rather than relying on “raw skill” to seek revenge. “If I’m being honest with you, this is the first time in my career that I would say we’re specifically working on a game plan,” Joshua continued.
“So after July 23 everything will make sense. I’ve based a lot of my success on raw skill, with the right trainers, experienced trainers. But they probably knew I had talent. So it’s all about neutering that talent. What It often happens that we overthink things when there is no game plan. Because things don’t always go our way when based on raw skill.
https://www.mirror.co.uk/sport/boxing/anthony-joshua-oleksandr-usyk-boxing-27021772 Anthony Joshua insists Oleksandr Usyk wasn't the toughest opponent he's ever faced