Updated:Apr 10, 2023 8:40 pm
Oleksandr Usyk has claimed that he never wanted to knock Anthony Joshua out when fighting the Brit on back-to-back for the IBF, WBA and WBO Heavyweight Championships.
Usyk and Joshua first shared the ring in September 2021 at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London. The Ukrainian proved too skilful, capturing a 12-round unanimous decision and becoming the first former cruiserweight world champion to attain a world title at heavyweight since David Haye.
The pair collided again around one year later in August 2022, this time at the Jeddah Superdrome in Saudi Arabia. Despite the rematch being more competitive, Usyk emerged as the rightful victor and was awarded a split-decision by the judges.
Oleksandr Usyk, a former Olympic gold medallist and undisputed cruiserweight champion, never came particularly close to stopping Joshua in either fight. In round 12 of their first encounter, Usyk swarmed AJ in the remaining seconds yet the Brit was saved by the bell and was exhausted rather than hurt.
And in the rematch it was Joshua who came close to getting the knockout. The Watford native landed a powerful body shot that seemed to hurt Usyk, who displayed good survival skills to make it out of the round.
Regardless, the number one ranked heavyweight by Ring Magazine has two wins over Joshua on his resume and there is no way of knowing for certain if his recent comments are genuine. After all, Usyk had no problem stopping Tony Bellew back in 2018 at Manchester Arena or knocking out the likes of Ben Nsafoah and Cesar David Crenz early in his professional career.
Furthermore, as a naturally small heavyweight, it is not shocking Usyk was unable to drop someone twenty pounds heavier than him like Anthony Joshua.
Oleksandr Usyk’s Promoter On Potential Fight With Daniel Dubois
After failing to make the undisputed heavyweight with Tyson Fury, Oleksandr Usyk is reportedly in talks to fight Daniel Dubois next who is the WBA (Regular) Champion and mandatory challenger. However, Usyk’s promoter, Alex Krassyuk is concerned that Dubois may not be physically ready to participate in the bout.
“The only issue that is now being in process is Daniel Dubois’ health, if he’s fit to fight”, Krassyuk said in an interview with International Boxing News.
“We all saw the severe injury he suffered in his last fight. He has to recover one hundred percent because we want to avoid the situation where we have a fight on paper, we have the date, we start promoting it and at some point we realise that the guy is injured.
“Because his injury was not recovered one hundred percent. Then we want to avoid this. That’s why the WBA asked for the independent doctors inspection and we wait for their conclusion on Dubois.”
Dubois fought Kevin Lerena in his last fight back in December and won via third-round stoppage. But ‘Dynamite’ had a problem with his right leg in the first round, causing him to touch the canvas three times. And after the fight it was confirmed that Dubois had torn his ACL and would require over six months to recover.
Therefore, Usyk may have to look for other opponents. The Ukrainian has been heavily linked with Deontay Wilder which could count as a voluntary defence. ‘The Bronze Bomber’ has stated on numerous occasions he would like to face Usyk and many in the boxing fraternity believe this is a fascinating match up.
Alternatively, it’s possible another sanctioning body will call Usyk to fight their mandatory. Filip Hrgovic tops the IBF rankings and is coming off a majority decision over Zhilei Zhang. Meanwhile, Joe Joyce is the WBO Interim Heavyweight Champion and is scheduled to fight Zhang this Saturday at the Copper Box Arena in London.