Anthony Joshua admits that Tyson Fury’s taunts may have tricked him into trying to outbox Alexander Usik.
Ever since the professional rivalry between two of Britain’s best stalwarts turned sour, Fury prefers to label AJ a “big hard bodybuilder”.
And the 32-year-old Watford hero has admitted that he had a solution stuck in his head when he tried to overtake the southpaw talent at Tottenham in September.
The 2012 Olympic Golden Boy was dominated by the 34-year-old Ukrainian, who won in north London on all three judges’ scorecards despite height, weight and losses.
And Joshua has revealed that one of Fury’s trademark digs was ringing in his ears when he tried to play chess with a grandmaster.
From his warm-weather training camp in Dubai, AJ told Sky: “Usik came from cruiserweight, he’s a great fighter, a 12-round fighter.
“And I wanted to box with him for 12 rounds.
“There was always this stigma that I couldn’t box, that I was this ‘big rigid body-builder.
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“So I said ‘Cool, let me practice my boxing’.
“I tried to practice my boxing with Usyk and it didn’t work out.”
But Joshua believes he will make the necessary changes to ensure he regains his WBA, IBF and WBO titles when the pair meet again in the spring.
He said: “He won nine rounds and I won three. But in the next fight I will win four more rounds and win.
“I’ll make it as simple as that.
“Then I’ll be on my way to becoming the undisputed champion again.”
Usyk’s win was the second loss of Joshua’s illustrious pro career and hurt him more than the stoppage loss that shocked Mexican underdog Andy Ruiz Jr. in June 2019.
Pocket Rocket Ruiz Jr. was a late replacement for giant drug cheat Jarrell Miller, so AJ hadn’t specifically trained to counter a sharp little slugger.
And he arrived in New York with a stye infection around his eye and a swollen face, to suggest he didn’t fit.
USYK hurts more
But for the home show against Usyk, he was in perfect condition and admits he was beaten fair and square, leaving him distraught.
“I never made excuses when I lost the first time,” he said.
“I had my reasons but I took my loss because I knew I would get it back, so I brushed it under the carpet.
“But it hurt, because I was 100 percent.
“I didn’t have a problem, everything was good. I just went out there and lost the night to the better man.
“It hurt but it inspired me to get out of the situation where it killed me mentally.
“I’ve fought my way back and I’ll redeem myself.”
After the loss – in which he received poor advice from head trainer and Team GB mastermind Rob McCracken, as well as assistant trainers Angel Fernandez and Joby Clayton – AJ went on a tour of America’s best gyms and met the country’s most respected trainers. ,
Promoter Eddie Hearn has confirmed that he will announce his new training regime in the new year and AJ is currently training in the Middle East where he spent a session with Floyd Mayweather Jr.
And he has revealed the list of essential health and lifestyle factors he and his new team will need to focus their effort to become a three-time heavyweight world champion.
He said: “Let’s focus on quality, let’s focus on what’s needed.
“It has to come from top to bottom because I am the last piece of the puzzle, I am the last performance.
“We are talking about motivation speeches like the mindset, the gameplan, the brain training, the sparring, our approach to sparring and what we are getting out of it, diet needs, sleep, recovery, what I am hearing.
“Because it’s the biggest phase of my career, fighting for the world heavyweight championship.”