Boxing
Connor O'Halloran44d

Anthony Joshua ahead of Oleksandr Usyk bout: 'I miss the days of slicing people's faces open'

Boxing

LONDON, England -- Anthony Joshua has said he wants to use his power and size advantage over Oleksandr Usyk when the pair meet in a rematch in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia in August.

Joshua (24-2, 22 KOs), 32, will be bidding to reclaim his WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight title belts when he faces Usyk (19-0, 13 KOs), 35, on Aug. 20. Neither fighter has competed since Usyk's unanimous decision victory over Joshua at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in September.

Despite earning a comfortable victory, Usyk sustained a deep cut above his right eye late in that fight, which Joshua seemed to take pleasure inflicting.

"His [Usyk's] hairstyle is different, and he's got a slice scar on his eye," Joshua said at a news conference on Wednesday.

"I was thinking back, I cut up a few people's faces: Paul Butlin, Usyk, I split [Kubrat] Pulev's lip.

"I just grazed [Andy] Ruiz, he doesn't count because I mean properly smashing faces in. I like that stuff, I never had a style, I just adapted.

"One of my strengths was my power but I always wanted to go down that path of being a clean boxer, 'hit and not get hit, especially if I want to have a long and successful career.

"You need to have a good defence but I moved away from the ferocious side of boxing where I knew I could hit and stun people. And I do miss the days of slicing people's faces open and hurting them, for sure. So I am looking forward to getting back to that."

The rematch in August will be Joshua's 12th world title fight since first becoming heavyweight champion in 2016 with a win over Charles Martin. However, it will be his first without long-time trainer Robert McCracken, who Joshua split from following the defeat to Usyk in September.

McCracken oversaw Joshua's training as an amateur and helped him to win Olympic gold in boxing at London 2012 before continuing to guide him when he entered the professional ranks shortly after. The Brit will instead be trained instead by Robert Garcia for the Usyk rematch.

"In terms of Rob not being in the camp, it's cool. No problem," Joshua said. "Boxing is boxing... a different environment was needed at that time so it's cool, no problem. I knew what I wanted to do. I wasn't forced, it was my own decision."

Joshua said he believed he was beating Usyk during their first bout in September, which Usyk won unanimously on the judge's scores.

"I swear I thought I was [winning the fight.] I thought I was looking like Muhammad Ali in there," Joshua said.

"Throughout the fight, I thought I was winning but at that stage, I kind of knew it was close. I thought at that stage I was well in the fight because it didn't seem like there was any real communication as to where I'm at. Like: 'You're losing this fight... you're down by two rounds.' I didn't get that.

"I'm not blaming anyone by saying that but I didn't get any impression that I was losing the fight. I thought we were well in it. That's why when they announced the name I was kind of like: 'Huh?'

"It was all just 'that's it, keep on going.' So I was jabbing and jabbing. It was hard to accept afterwards. Now when I watch it back I think he won by three rounds, that's probably from the 9th onwards."

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