Oleksandr Usyk vs Anthony Joshua 2: AJ's 'old school' mentality explained

  • Tom Ward

Anthony Joshua has adopted an ‘old school’ mentality ahead of his rematch against Oleksandr Usyk, his training partner said.

The former two-time heavyweight world champion suffered a unanimous decision defeat to his Ukrainian arch rival last September on home soil at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London.

Joshua, 33, attributed his second loss inside the ring to his rather tentative approach, which led him to replace his longtime coach Rob McCracken with Robert Garcia joining Angel Fernandes in his corner.

And according to AJ’s teammate Richard Riakporhe, they have helped him change his mindset completely heading into arguably the most important fight of his career to date.

Riakporhe, 32, told Sky Sports: “Both of them [Garcia and Fernandes] have a similar type of mentality – very, very aggressive. Very aggressive coaches, that’s their tactics. They don’t mind going in.

ALL THE INFO: Anthony Joshua vs Oleksandr Usyk 2: Date, Card, UK Start Time, Ring Walks, Tickets, Live Stream, Odds and More

“All they care about is going into war, going to war but with intelligence. But we’re going to have to impose our will on our opponent. That’s the philosophy and it’s all about knockouts .

“That’s all they care about, honestly, knock them out and then it’s about how they get knocked out. Because you can’t go in there just throwing bombs and not expect things back. You obviously have to be really strategic. It’s all about the results and that’s all they care about.

Anthony Joshua and Oleksandr Usyk will rematch in Saudi Arabia on August 20

“Garcia, one thing that I’ve learned about him, he does bring that mentality, that Mexican style mentality – it’s OK to take one, to give them two.”

Less than a month away from Joshua’s shot at redemption in Saudi Arabia on August 20, Riakporhe believes the British superstar is in a much better position for the rematch than he was the first time.

He added: “I’ve been seeing how he’s been performing in training and he’s definitely not going to be trying to do that boxing stuff that he did last year. You’re going to see that old school fighter. I know because he’s been training like that.

“That’s the type of mentality that they have. Kill or be killed. That’s what I’ve adopted and it’s just changed everything.

“You can feel the aura, you can see it. You can see that guy’s a dangerous man. I think this is what you’re going to see from Joshua on August 20, you’re going to see something different.”

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Riakporhe reckons Usyk is the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world right now but insists Joshua is more than capable of pulling off the upset.

He continued: “Don’t get me wrong, it’s a tough test. I believe that Usyk is the most technically gifted fighter in the world and not just only technically gifted but mentally ready for war.

“That’s the worst combination.

“It’s the worst combination because you get some that just don’t have the other but he’s got both, which makes it double trouble so AJ knows he has to be on his A-game.

“In AJ’s situation, coming back as a three-time world champion, that’s special. Three-time unified heavyweight world champion, it’s rare. That’s a beautiful thing and that’s something he has been focusing on.

“I believe it’s going to come.”

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