Anthony Joshua has mischievously predicted a first-round KO of Oleksandr Usyk as he attempts to reclaim his position as unified heavyweight champion in Jeddah on Saturday.
Joshua has spent the last four weeks in Saudi Arabia to wrap up preparations for Rage on the Red Sea and on Monday he began his media work in a messy function room at the Shangri-La Hotel.
The 2012 Olympic champion, who was looking to regain the WBA, IBF and WBO belts he lost to Usyk almost a year ago when they first clashed at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, looked relaxed as he took the picture of an early win in the break painted.
“It’s good to be back in Saudi Arabia. We’ve been here for four weeks now, this is our fifth week. It feels like a home away from home, it’s been nice,” Joshua said.
“May the best win in the end. I pray for victory and also pray for a good fight. I want to make it this time.
“I’ll be right out… ding ding ding at one. Good defence, positive thinking, one step forward… boom boom… double win… Usyk falls… Joshua becomes three-time world champion in Saudi Arabia. Life is good!”
When asked if the rematch was the biggest fight of his career, Joshua said, “Yeah, definitely. I felt that pressure 100 percent in my camp. It got me further.”
Usyk, meanwhile, armed with a message of goodwill from President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, enters the showdown at King Abdullah Sports City as Ukraine continues to fight Russia’s invading armies.
Usyk insists that while he is determined to lift spirits at home by ruling out the need for a trilogy bout, he feels just as much pressure from a boxing crowd accustomed to success.
“He (Zelenskyy) supports me and I will speak to him soon. In every battle I fight for my people. I want my fans to be happy with what I do and that’s why I do it,” said the former undisputed cruiserweight champion.
“We are a boxing country. We have a lot of boxers that have been at the top for many years and people get used to that, they want boxing at a high level, so we have to give them what we’re used to.”
Joshua’s game plan to outsmart a master technician in the first bout fell through as he suffered a comprehensive points loss and Usyk is a clear favorite to win again.
Robert Garcia is now in Joshua’s corner and new tactics have been promised to prevent the 32-year-old’s career from going into free fall.
“I’m assuming he’ll use the boxing style, but I can’t say what it is because he’ll watch that and change his style,” Usyk said.
“I still have some time before the fight but it’s media week now so it’s more about interviews now. We have achieved a lot in our training camp and we are ready to show that on Saturday.”
https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/anthony-joshua-oleksandr-usyk-saudi-arabia-jeddah-shangrila-b2145628.html Relaxed Anthony Joshua plans early layoff to reclaim world titles