Anthony Joshua vs Oleksandr Usyk 2: Brit needs to go back to being the old 'AJ'

  • Tom Ward

Anthony Joshua needs to rediscover his old self if he is to stand any chance of beating Oleksandr Usyk in their rematch this summer.

That is according to the Ukrainian’s former opponent Tony Bellew, who insists Joshua still has the ability to become a three-time heavyweight world champion but needs to make a few changes.

AJ, 32, surrendered the unified WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO belts last September to Usyk, 35, who put on a boxing masterclass at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London.

Promoter Eddie Hearn has confirmed that the pair will rematch in June at a location and date to be announced.

Writing in his DAZN column, Bellew admitted that he was baffled by Joshua’s tactics during his first fight with Usyk.

He wrote: “The manner of Joshua’s loss surprised me in their first encounter. Not because of the result, I know better than anyone just how good Usyk is, but more the approach.

“There were several advantages that I spoke about in the build-up, most notably the size difference, that Joshua could use, but he went in a different direction and that was great news for Usyk.

“A big change is needed if he’s to become heavyweight champion again, but he can do it. 

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Where was Anthony Joshua born?

“The rise of Anthony Joshua is one of the best British boxing stories of all time. Olympic gold medallist to world champion in the space of a few years along with selling out arenas and stadiums on the journey.

“His win over Wladimir Klitschko in 2017 was a glorious occasion, one of the best I’ve been at, and the grit and determination shown in that fight is what I want to see from ‘AJ’ moving forward.” 

And Bellew believes Joshua needs to revert to type just like he did against Dillian Whyte and Wladimir Klitschko.

Bellew added: “If he’s to be successful against Usyk and become heavyweight champion for a third time, Joshua has to look at himself and be the man he was against Dillian Whyte and Klitschko.

“A fighter with a point to prove. For all the wealth and accolades he has, being world champion is a major priority for him and if he’s hungry and prepared to put it all on the line, he can do it. 

LONDON, ENGLAND – SEPTEMBER 25: Oleksandr Usyk ducks as Anthony Joshua punches during the Heavyweight Title Fight between Anthony Joshua and Oleksandr Usyk at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on September 25, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

“He must start quick. He has to show Usyk he’s the bigger and stronger man, and when he gets success early, he can gain confidence from it.

“He can’t just go in and swing his hands because Usyk is too smart, but you can be smart with pressure, and when you have Joshua’s speed and power, believe me, you can get on top against most fighters. 

“When his back has been against the wall at previous times in his career, Joshua has demonstrated that he’s okay in that position.

“This is a totally different proposition though now he’s up against Usyk. The pressure is on him like never before, but he’s no stranger to dealing with it.

“This is a fight where it could all go wrong for Joshua, but if it goes right for him, then there’s not really much else you can say about him. He’ll be a bigger superstar than he already is.” 

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