Anthony Joshua must learn from his defeat to Oleksandr Usyk if he is to come back stronger and keep alive the possibility of facing Tyson Fury, according to Joseph Parker.

Joshua lost his IBF, WBA and WBO titles to Usyk on Saturday after being outclassed by the Ukrainian on home soil at a packed Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

The 31-year-old had no answer to former undisputed cruiserweight champion Usyk and lost on a unanimous points decision.

It was just the second defeat of Joshua's professional career, having previously been stopped by Andy Ruiz Jr. in June 2019 before reclaiming the belts in their rematch.

The prospect of Joshua and Fury facing off now appears slim, with the latter's promoter Frank Warren casting doubt on a bout that at one point looked certain to take place this year.

A rematch with 19-0 Usyk may now be on the cards for Joshua before he can contemplate facing Fury, who has a third clash with Deontay Wilder coming up on October 9.

But Parker, who was the first man to take Joshua the distance in their 2018 unification fight in Cardiff, believes there is still hope of an all-British heavyweight clash taking place.

"I feel like the point is just the best fighting the best," Parker told Stats Perform. "Even though AJ lost that fight to Usyk, he's still considered one of the best. 

"He's going to go down in history as one of the best heavyweights. I think people want to see the best fight the best and that's a fight that can still happen. 

"People will still be very interested to see who's the best British heavyweight there is."

Speaking after his surprise defeat in London at the weekend, Joshua said he is "110 per cent" up for a rematch with Usyk to win back his belts.

Despite the manner of the defeat, Parker has backed Joshua to put up a far stronger performance if he does step back into the ring with Usyk.

"I was a little surprised by the defeat," Parker said. "I mean, a lot of other people called it a 50-50 fight, a lot of people said it was going to be a tear up for AJ to win. 

"But Usyk showed everyone watching tremendous skill and footwork and movement. You just saw him outbox and outsmart AJ for the 12 rounds.

"But [Joshua's] a smart man and he's got a smart team. He's faced a loss and adversity and he's come back with a better game plan. That's what he's going to need to do. 

"I think I saw an interview saying he's already watched the fight straight after it happened and he just needs to make those adjustments and how to counter someone like Usyk.

"Who wins the rematch depends on the training, it depends on who shows up on the day. But going into the rematch, Usyk would have big confidence. 

"It's pretty crazy how he came from the cruiserweight division, unified champion of the world and then has three fights and he's the unified champion of the world. 

"That's the goal of a lot of heavyweights, is to be champion of the world and be unified champ. It's so crazy how things happen."

Joshua followed up his victory over Parker, which saw him retain his WBA, IBF and IBO belts and win the WBO title, with a knockout triumph over Alexander Povetkin.

The Briton has lost two of his following four fights, however, giving him a record of 24-2 and leading to inevitable suggestions that his career is now declining.

But Parker said: "It's hard to say if that's the case. From when I fought him, he's had a couple of wins, a loss to Ruiz and come back and beat him again.

"He's saying that he's improving and getting better, but maybe he just was faced with a fighter who was just different, you know, in his element. 

"When you see Usyk, with the footwork and the movement - he didn't really allow AJ to land his shots and catch him. He was just in and out and just very smart."

Anthony Joshua says he would still fight Tyson Fury without being a world champion after he was emphatically dethroned by Oleksandr Usyk.

Usyk outclassed Joshua at a packed Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Saturday to take the WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight titles.

Joshua had no answer to the unbeaten Ukrainian, who secured a masterful unanimous decision victory and looked like stopping the Briton in the final round.

A rematch with the 19-0 Usyk could be on the cards for Joshua rather than a unification bout with Fury after he suffered the second defeat of his professional career on home soil.

The 31-year-old declared that he would be eager to fight his compatriot Fury, who faces a third clash with Deontay Wilder on October 9, regardless of whether he has any belts to put on the line.

"The road to undisputed and all that stuff, it's good," said Joshua, who suffered a badly swollen right eye in his loss in London.

"As I said, I'll fight Tyson Fury, Wilder, without the belts. The belts are fun. It's great, it's legacy. But with or without the belts, I'll fight whoever.

"The road to undisputed is a nice title to have and a nice title to chase.

"But would you still watch it, without the belts? That's the main thing – is you've got two competitive fighters in the ring from UK soil, that just want to go toe-to-toe.!

Asked if he would want a rematch with Usyk, Joshua said: "100 per cent. 110 per cent.

"I'm ready to get back to training. Because of the 12 rounds, my lungs and everything, it was a good 12-rounder, so I'll be in a good place when I get back into training to pick up where we left off."

Anthony Joshua wants an immediate rematch with Oleksandr Usyk after being dethroned in their heavyweight bout, while the British star was upbeat despite the surprise defeat.

Joshua was stripped of his IBF, WBA and WBO titles by Usyk, who scored a unanimous points decision in just his third fight since stepping up to heavyweight in London on Saturday.

Usyk – a former undisputed cruiserweight champion – handed Joshua his second career loss, having previously been stopped by Andy Ruiz Jr. in June 2019 before reclaiming the belts in their rematch.

Joshua is hoping to do so again with Usyk after falling to 24-2 in front of more than 66,000 fans at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

"A 100 per cent, a 110 per cent," Joshua said during his post-fight news conference.

"I'm ready to get back to training. Because I did 12 rounds, my lungs, and everything... I'll be in a good place even I get back to training and pick up where we left off."

Joshua had hoped to be taking on WBC holder Tyson Fury in a lucrative showdown to decide an undisputed champion in the heavyweight division, but that plan was scuppered when his rival was ordered to face Deontay Wilder for a third time instead. 

Usyk was the back-up option picked to bridge the gap, the mandatory challenger coming with a superb pedigree but limited experience at heavyweight. 

Unbeaten as he improved to 19-0, Usyk's southpaw stance and smooth footwork troubled Joshua from the outset and a flurry of punches left his star opponent on the ropes and desperate for the bell in the final round.

"It's a great lesson today. It was a great lesson," Joshua told reporters.

"I know, we can look at it from a negative point of view, but for me, I gotta take it as a great lesson and build on that situation... I'm not a weak person. I don't want to be in my bedroom sulking about the situation.

"I'm looking at it like a great lesson, go back, study and rejuvenate myself because nobody's gonna do it for me."

Anthony Joshua will need to make some "big changes" if he wants to avenge his points defeat to Oleksandr Usyk, according to Eddie Hearn.

In just his third fight since stepping up to heavyweight, the unbeaten Usyk produced a clinical performance to beat home favourite Joshua in London and claim the IBF, WBA and WBO titles.

The Ukrainian's crisp punching and classy footwork saw him deservedly get the nod from all three judges at ringside, improving his record to 19-0 as a professional, having already been the undisputed champion in the cruiserweight division, too.

Joshua did not immediately give an in-ring interview in the aftermath of just a second career defeat, having previously been stopped by Andy Ruiz Jr. in New York in June 2019.

The Briton bounced back to reclaim his belts from the same opponent and could opt to try to do the same again with Usyk, though Hearn feels the tactics will need to be different if the outcome is to change second time around.

"Congratulations to Oleksandr Usyk, what a fighter. He put in a great performance tonight and the better man won," the promoter told Sky Sports.

"It was really the danger of the fight, you overthink it and try to be too technical and don't make your mark early enough in the fight. Usyk is very fit, has great feet and threw a lot of punches in there.  

"It was all the things you worry about against a fighter like Usyk. He exercised his style very, very well, was probably a bit more aggressive than anticipated. He was really good tonight and goes down in history. 

"No complaints from AJ, he will get up and go again. He is already talking about training again on Monday, but this is a tough defeat.

"This was getting beat by a pound-for-pound fighter. We've been here before in Madison Square Garden, but that was different. This is just being beaten by a better man on the night. 

"You have to make some big changes in the rematch to avenge that defeat."

Hearn added: "Usyk was the deserved winner and if that happens again, he [Joshua] gets beaten. He's got to impose himself early, though it's going to be difficult because Usyk's confidence is going to be sky high.  

"When you get to the level that Joshua has, as we saw after the Ruiz defeat, there is no 10-round comeback fights, no warm-ups. You go straight back in. 

"He will want to go straight into that rematch. He will be an underdog after tonight, but this is what he does. He chose to take on a pound-for-pound great and deserves credit for that."

Joshua had seemingly been set to face Tyson Fury, only for that unification showdown to be scuppered by an arbitration ruling.

WBC champion Fury was ordered to take on Deontay Wilder for a third time instead, with that trilogy bout booked for October 9 in Las Vegas. 

While a future showdown with Fury may be off the table for now, Hearn made clear that Joshua has lost none of his desire, despite what he described as an "average" display against Usyk.

"He lives and breathes boxing. Boxing saved him, boxing made him - he won't fall out of love with the game," Hearn stated.

"When you do, it's time to walk away from the sport. The desire is still there, it will be there, but you can have that, you've got to be good enough. 

"He will know when he watches that back. That, for me, was an average performance from Joshua. He can do so much better in that fight, but this is what happens in this sport. You can criticise him but he's facing the best consistently."

Oleksandr Usyk produced a boxing masterclass to sensationally dethrone Anthony Joshua at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, completely altering the heavyweight landscape in the process. 

Usyk maintained his unbeaten record as a professional by outsmarting and outclassing the home favourite for the vast majority of their 12-round contest, rightly earning a unanimous points triumph to claim the IBF, WBA and WBO titles on Saturday.

Joshua started slowly and simply never managed to catch up. While there were bright spells for the defending champion around the midway stage, he faded badly down the stretch having struggled to ever impose himself. 

Usyk even threatened to force a late stoppage as the Ukrainian came on strong in the closing rounds, yet he eventually settled for a comfortable win on the scorecards. The three judges scored it 117-112, 116-112 and 115-113 in his favour. 

"The fight went exactly the way I expected it to go,” Usyk said in his post-fight interview with DAZN. 

"There were times when Anthony pushed me hard but nothing special. I had no objective to knock him out. My corner pushed me not to do that."

Joshua had hoped to be taking on WBC title holder Tyson Fury in a lucrative showdown to decide an undisputed champion in the division, only for that plan to be scuppered when his rival was ordered to face Deontay Wilder for a third time instead. 

Usyk was the back-up option picked to bridge the gap, the mandatory challenger with the WBO holder coming with a superb pedigree but limited experience at heavyweight. 

Still, the former undisputed cruiserweight champion was undeterred by giving away both a height and weight advantage. Elusive from the outset, his southpaw stance and smooth footwork bamboozled a plodding Joshua. 

Straight lefts landed with unerring accuracy, though by the halfway stage it appeared the Briton had begun to work out a method to counter what he was up against. 

However, it proved to be a false dawn for Joshua, the composed Usyk undoubtedly finishing the stronger of the two, including an impressive 11th round that saw him land consistently before a finale that saw Joshua at times appearing ready to buckle. 

While he did make it through to the final bell on his feet, the verdict was clear: Usyk had stunned both his opponent and a partisan crowd to be crowned in the English capital.

Anthony Joshua has no intention of making things "too complicated" when he defends his world heavyweight titles against the unbeaten Oleksandr Usyk on Saturday.  

The reigning IBF, WBA and WBO champion looked in excellent condition as he weighed in on Friday, tipping the scales at 240 pounds – a fraction lighter than for his previous fight, against Kubrat Pulev, at the end of 2020.

Joshua was always going to have a height and weight advantage coming into an intriguing contest at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium this weekend, even if Usyk did come in at a career-high 221.25 pounds.

It is just a third outing at heavyweight for the Ukrainian, who was previously the undisputed champion at cruiserweight before moving up. His boxing abilities should not be doubted, considering his achievements as an amateur as well, but after taking on Chazz Witherspoon and Dereck Chisora previously, he is about to jump back in at the deep end nearly a year on from his last bout.

The physical differences further increase the intrigue over how each man will approach the occasion, as two fighters who struck gold at the London Olympics in 2012 meet in the English capital.

"It's called a boxing match for a reason. I love the sweet science. I will display my boxing skills, but I won't make it too complicated in there," Joshua said at the final news conference.

This, of course, was not the fight the 31-year-old had expected to be next on his agenda. A deal was in place to take on Tyson Fury to reveal a new undisputed champion, but the holder of the WBC title has been ordered to take on Deontay Wilder for a third time instead.

That trilogy bout takes place on October 9 in Las Vegas, a hurdle Fury will likely have to clear if we are to see the all-British showdown that has been teased for too long, amid lengthy negotiations, social media sparring and arbitration hearings.

Before then, though, Joshua must focus on the task at hand. Usyk, the mandatory challenger for the WBO strap, is not an opponent to be taken lightly either, even if he weighed considerably less on the scales.

The result is all that matters for Joshua, who knows just what is at stake. Unlike his opponent, Usyk has little to lose – apart from that unblemished record in the pros – and everything to gain, having received the chance to spring the type of surprise that would seismically alter the heavyweight landscape.

The pair took part in a tense head-to-head showdown after weighing in, though they did share a handshake and a smile before parting ways. Respectful during the build-up, it will be down to business when they next come face to face with each other.

RECENT HISTORY

Joshua finished an otherwise quiet 2020 in style, stopping the ever-willing but overmatched Pulev inside nine rounds in his solitary outing during the year. A small number of fans were present inside Wembley Arena amid the coronavirus pandemic, but there will be far more in attendance at the impressive home of Spurs this weekend.

That Pulev bout came just over a year after Joshua's revenge mission against Andy Ruiz Jr, when he boxed intelligently to regain the titles he had lost against the same opponent midway through 2019 in a stunning upset on his American debut.

As for Usyk, he came through a gruelling physical test against Chisora, winning their October 2020 meeting by unanimous decision on the scorecards.

Chisora, who was left "gutted" by the final verdict, was asked in the aftermath if he felt his opponent had shown him enough to be able to beat one of the big names in the division, to which he replied: "No, because in the heavyweight game, you have to fight, not box."

TALE OF THE TAPE 

ANTHONY JOSHUA

Age: 31
Height: 6ft 6ins (198cm)
Weight: 240lbs
Reach: 82ins
Professional record: 24-1 (22 KOs)
Major career titles: IBF, WBA, WBO heavyweight

OLEKSANDR USYK

Age: 34
Height: 6ft 3ins (191cm) 
Weight: 221.25lbs
Reach: 78ins  
Professional record: 18-0 (13 KOs) 
Major career titles: IBF, WBA, WBC, WBO cruiserweight

Anthony Joshua is relishing the chance to fight Oleksandr Usyk in London and said he would "give it a go" against King Kong for the love of the sport.

The IBF, WBA and WBO belts will be on the line when the Ukrainian faces the heavyweight champion at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Saturday.

Usyk came to Thursday's pre-fight media event dressed like The Joker, but the formalities were very professional as the pair faced off and shook hands in a respectful, if intense, manner.

Former undisputed cruiserweight champion Usyk, 34, might be facing a height and weight disadvantage, but Joshua has plenty of admiration for a fighter he is excited to face.

"I wasn't on the amateur scene long enough to know much about Oleksandr but when I turned professional I did a lot of research and I love the Ukrainian style and the Ukrainian people," he said.

"He was fighting 10 or 12 years as an amateur before he went to the Olympics and worlds, so he is probably happy to be in this position – the cream always rises to the top.

"I love throwback fighters. I do watch a lot of boxing and I don't fight good people just to get respect.

"If you tell me I was fighting King Kong, I would give it a go. This is my job. I'm going to work. It's the best days of my life.

"I work hard to make sure boxing is really respected, and I pay them back by putting in a lot of work in the gym.

"I'm not an easy fight for anyone, I like fighting. God has blessed me, shown me the path to get into boxing. I'm here, blessed, happy and don't take it for granted."

Usyk's promoter Alexander Krassyuk described Joshua as "the best in the division" with "the heart of a warrior", although he warned the Briton he was facing the toughest fight of his career.

"I can do a lot more," Usyk said through an interpreter. "I feel fine, and I look forward to this. I want to thank the team and Eddie Hearn, and I'm grateful this is happening on Saturday.

"Every fight makes history and I think me and Anthony will make another step in history, something that people will be talking about, remember and will be watching on television."

Oleksandr Usyk will aim to make the most of his opportunity on Saturday, with the Ukrainian looking to upset the odds and dethrone Anthony Joshua in London. 

Already holding the IBF, WBA and WBO titles, heavyweight Joshua appeared set for a hugely lucrative unification showdown with Tyson Fury, holder of the WBC belt, that would identify an undisputed champion in the division. 

An arbitration hearing put paid to that plan, though, as Fury was ordered to face Deontay Wilder for a third time, denying boxing fans the fight they desperately wanted to see. 

However, Usyk is an intriguing prospect for Joshua to deal with. Dominant at cruiserweight before stepping up, the 34-year-old has the potential to cause problems, considering both his boxing skills and outstanding resume. 

Britain may dominate right now, but fighters from Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Republics have ruled the roost at different times, albeit with varying degrees of longevity.  

 

VITALI KLITSCHKO

The baton passed from the famed heavyweights of the 1990s to the coming generation when Lennox Lewis uncharacteristically slugged his way to victory over Vitali Klitschko in Los Angeles in June 2003. The last man standing from his era after comprehensively beating Mike Tyson, Lewis was given hell by "Dr Steelhammer" but managed to inflict enough damage for the challenger to be stopped on cuts after six gruelling rounds.

Lewis never boxed again and Klitschko never lost again, winning 13 fights in succession either side of a four-year retirement. He lifted the WBC title and settled a family grudge by stopping Corrie Sanders in April 2004. He was never without the famous green belt in the ring up until he hung up his gloves in 2012 to focus full-time on a political career than now sees Vitali serving at the Mayor of Kyiv.

WLADIMIR KLITSCHKO

The younger Klitschko was the first eastern European to lift a heavyweight title in the 21st century when he twice floored Chris Byrd on the way to a unanimous decision to win the WBO belt in October 2000. Byrd became champion in his previous fight when, way down on the cards, Vitali withdrew on his stool due to a shoulder injury. It meant Vitali was returning a favour against Sanders, who demolished Wladimir over two harrowing rounds in March 2003.

Another knockout loss followed a little over a year with the vacant WBO strap on the line against Lamon Brewster. At that stage, it was impossible to foresee the imperious dominance that would follow a second win over Byrd for the IBF and 18 successful defences. Closing out his career with losses to Fury and Joshua carried a heavy sense changing eras, as with his brother and Lewis a decade and a half earlier.

NIKOLAI VALUEV

All the men on this list could lay claim to the moniker of "Beast from the East" but none would be able to pull it off as well as the preposterously proportioned Valuev. Standing at 7ft and tipping the scales at over 300lbs, he became the tallest and heaviest heavyweight champion in history. Valuev's skills were akin to a rudimentary club fighter, but he was just far too big for most opponents to handle.

Each of his two stints as WBA ruler began with prophetically forgettable points wins over John Ruiz and after a 2008 loss to a pot-shotting David Haye he walked away to a varied post-fight career. Like Klitschko he entered politics, winning election to the State Duma in Russia's 2011 parliamentary election. He also became an unlikely face of children's television in his homeland, presenting the long-running "Good Night, Little Ones!".

SIARHEI LIAKHOVICH

Liakhovich's period reign as WBO champion lasted seven months. The Belarusian won a unanimous decision win over Brewster in April 2006, despite taking a knee in the seventh. He was up on the cards when Shannon Briggs dramatically knocked him through the ropes during the closing seconds of his first defence. Briggs was the last American to get his hands on any portion of the heavyweight title before Wilder's WBC reign began in 2015. Two years earlier, the "Bronze Bomber" left Liakhovich quivering on the canvas after a terrifying first-round KO.

OLEG MASKAEV

Three months before Briggs' late show against Liakhovich, Maskaev battered one-time Lewis conqueror Hasim Rahman to defeat inside the final minute of their August 2006 rematch in Las Vegas. A product of the Soviet amateur system, Maskaev based himself in the US for the majority of his professional career. He was 37 by the time he ripped the WBC crown from Rahman and, after a successful defence against Okello Peter in Moscow, the Kazakh-born fighter was knocked out by Samuel Peter - the "Nigerian Nightmare" who was himself stopped by a returning Vitali Klitschko next time out.

RUSLAN CHAGAEV

If the WBA was a sofa, Chagaev would be the loose change they continue to find lurking between the cushions. He first won the organisation's belt with a majority decision win over Valuev in April 2007, although subsequent illness and injury led to him being declared "champion in recess". As such, the WBA belt was not on the line when his corner waved off a June 2009 shellacking at the hands of Wladimir Klitschko after nine rounds.

The organisation then elected to install Chagaev not as its champion but number one challenger, and he dropped an August 2011 decision to Alexander Povetkin for the vacant belt. The story did not end there, however, as Chagaev and the unheralded Fres Oquendo were selected to box for the WBA's vacant "regular" title in July 2014. Almost two years and one competitive round later, Chagaev was knocked out by Lucas Browne, who then failed a drugs test. The Uzbek was given back his title, only to be stripped in July 2016 for failing to pay the WBA sanctioning fees for that already barely remembered Oquendo contest, seemingly ending the saga.

SULTAN IBRAGIMOV

Not one to linger like Chagaev, Russia's Sydney 2000 heavyweight silver medallist Ibragimov outpointed Briggs in his 22nd professional bout to lift the WBO belt in June 2007. Under the tutelage of Jeff Mayweather, he comfortably beat the great Evander Holyfield in his first defence. A unification showdown with Wladimir Klitschko was most notable for the Madison Square Garden crowd booing a safety-first affair. With that sole defeat, Ibragimov was gone, retiring in 2009 due to persistent injuries to his left hand.

ALEXANDER POVETKIN

Another decorated amateur, Povetkin won super-heavyweight gold at the 2004 Olympics and made four defences of the WBA title after beating Chagaev. To repeat a theme, all roads led to an uncompromising Klitschko, with Wladimir sending him to the canvas four times during a landslide Moscow triumph in October 2013. Failed drugs tests did little for Povetkin's wider reputation and put paid to a proposed meeting with Wilder.

A promising start unravelled to a seventh-round stoppage when challenging Joshua in September 2018, although Povetkin sensationally recovered from two knockdowns to ice Dillian Whyte this year. After losing the rematch, the Russian announced his retirement at the age of 41.

Anthony Joshua insists he has no specific game plan for his fight with Oleksandr Usyk, other than to win.

Joshua returns to action against former undisputed world cruiserweight champion Usyk at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Saturday.

Usyk, who has 13 knockouts from his 18 professional victories, has only previously fought twice against a heavyweight.

While the Ukrainian has insisted the pressure is all on Joshua, the reigning IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight champion says he has no particular strategy heading into the bout.

"I'm in there with the ultimate aim of winning. My goal is to either hurt you or beat you until I get the win," Joshua told Sky Sports.

"Whether it's the right hand, the uppercut or the jab... As long as it leads to a win. I could box on the front foot or the back foot. There is no real strategy except for winning."

Usyk beat Derek Chisora on points in London last year, while the 34-year-old has also previously defeated Tony Bellew on English soil.

"I'm physically conditioned and mentally conditioned. I should be fine. It's a big occasion, big pressure," continued Joshua, who had been set to face Tyson Fury before talks broke down due to the latter having to face Deontay Wilder in a trilogy bout.

"Bellew was at a different stage of his career when he took the fight. I'm at a different stage. So, what it means to me is different to what it meant to Bellew.

"Bellew put up a really good fight, and he came up short, which can happen in boxing. I will do everything to reverse what happened to Bellew and make it into my favour."

If Joshua and Fury both win their respective fights, then a heavyweight title bout could be on the cards yet again.

"I feel like I've got nothing else if I don't get this win," said Joshua. "It's not the end of the road but it's the start of a new chapter."

Usyk, meanwhile, insisted he will feel no anxiety in the hours leading up to the fight.

"The lack of nerves will help me," he told the Guardian. "I am not going to be nervous. Why would I be? It would not change anything. I will not get stronger, only weaker.

"I will be calm and confident and probably read a book before or watch a film and speak to my loved ones or my son. I am not going to do nerves at all."

Joe Joyce kept his heavyweight title ambitions on track with a sixth-round stoppage against Carlos Takam at Wembley Arena on Saturday.

The 35-year-old secured his latest win against former challenger Takam to stretch his unbeaten record to 13 fights, including 12 knockouts.

As the WBO's mandatory challenger, Joyce will now have a keen eye on the outcome of September's bout between Anthony Joshua and Oleksandr Usyk.

"What I want is AJ or Usyk. I'm ready now and don't need any more tests," he told BT Sport.

Joyce absorbed pressure from Takam in the early rounds before a barrage of punches in the fourth put him in control of the contest.

A powerful left hook from Joyce at the start of the sixth startled Takam and the referee intervened with the Frenchman increasingly unsteady on his feet.

"He is still dangerous, so I had to take my opportunity when I got it," Joyce added.

"He did mildly hurt me, I had to use the sweet science of boxing such as movement and feints to get the performance done.

"He didn't say anything about the stoppage, he is a warrior. It was a very tough fight, so my respect to him.

"I will go back in the gym and watch my fights back, analyse my performance and work on my mistakes, like when I got caught with silly shots."

Anthony Joshua will defend his WBA, WBO and IBF heavyweight titles against former undisputed cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on September 25.

Joshua had been in negotiations to face Tyson Fury in an all-British blockbuster but an arbitration hearing ruled Deontay Wilder had a contractual right to face the WBC champion for a third time.

Fury and Wilder's trilogy showdown was set to take place this weekend before the 'Gypsy King' tested positive for coronavirus.

That bout has now been shifted to October 9 in Las Vegas, meaning Joshua will have another chance to impress before his heavyweight rivals step out again.

That is not to say looking ahead to future contests would be wise for the 31-year-old, given the exceptionally skilled Usyk is intent on cleaning up at heavyweight as he did in the 200lbs division and boasts a professional record of 18 victories and no defeats.

Joshua avenged his shock loss to Andy Ruiz with a lopsided points win over the Mexican-American in Saudi Arabia at the end of 2019. The sole defence of his second reign as champion came with a dominant ninth-round stoppage of Kubrat Pulev at Wembley Arena last December, before Joshua's latest period of Fury-based frustration began.

Usyk has previously enjoyed success in the UK, both when he knocked out Tony Bellew in his final fight at cruiserweight and outpointed the veteran Dereck Chisora last year.

The Ukrainian also won heavyweight gold at London 2012, where Joshua triumphed at super-heavyweight. Indeed, this will be the first professional meeting between men who won Olympic gold medals in those respective categories.

"We are two Olympic gold medallists who have fought our way to the top and never avoided challenges," Joshua said.

"The stadium is exceptional, the atmosphere will be electric. I'm honoured to be the first person to fight in such an awe-inspiring venue. The stage is set and I am ready to handle business."

Joshua's stadium shows have become a fixture of UK boxing in the modern era.

He stopped Wladimir Klitschko in a thrilling Wembley contest in April 2017 before a September 2018 KO of Alexander Povetkin at the same venue – a fight for which Usyk was in attendance.

In between those triumphs, he beat Carlos Takam and then-WBO champion Joseph Parker at Cardiff's Principality Stadium.

In his sole remarks around the fight announcement, Usyk cryptically said: "The path will be mastered by the walking one."

While most Olympic sports are about elite athletes reaching the pinnacle, few are more effective in pointing us towards the superstars of tomorrow than boxing.

That is not to say Olympic gold in the ring cannot be a crowning career achievement in its own right, but making a national squad for the Games can often precede a glittering career in the professional ranks.

Ukrainian middleweight Oleksandr Khyzhniak, Russian heavyweight Muslim Gadzhimagomedov, Cuban light-welterweight Andy Cruz and British featherweight Peter McGrail are among those hoping to take the first step on the road to becoming household names.

Here, we look at some of the men and women they will be looking to emulate.

 

Muhammad Ali

Still known as Cassius Clay, 'The Greatest' first showcased his dazzling skills to the world as an 18-year-old at the Rome Games in 1960, carving out an elegant path to gold in the light-heavyweight division. Poland's 1956 bronze medallist and reigning European champion Zbigniew Pietrzykowski presented some problems with his southpaw style in the final but Ali would not be denied.

Sugar Ray Leonard

Future rivals Joe Frazier and George Foreman followed in Ali's footsteps with heavyweight gold in 1964 and 1968 respectively, but by the time that celebrated heavyweight era was winding down the United States had another golden generation of talent to get excited about in the form of their 1976 Olympic squad. The cream of the crop was a light-welterweight Leonard, who dazzled on his way to gold – not dropping a single round and then putting Cuban knockout artist Carlos Aldama on the canvas and forcing a standing eight-count in a stunning final victory.

Lennox Lewis

In a fitting precursor to his professional career, Lewis found Olympics glory was something worth waiting for. Representing Canada, he lost to American Tyrell Biggs at the 1984 games before returning four years later to stop Riddick Bowe in the Seoul 88 super-heavyweight final. Lewis avenged the Biggs loss early in his pro-career and a maiden reign as WBC champion came when Bowe refused a mandatory defence against the Briton. Career-defining wins over Evander Holyfield and Mike Tyson to stand tall among his peers remained the best part of a decade away.

Oscar de la Hoya

De la Hoya captured the hearts of a nation with his mega-watt smile, making good on his mother's dying wish that he would become Olympic champion. The all-action Mexican-American with a devastating left-hook saw off Germany's Marco Rudolph in the lightweight final at Barcelona 92. The 'Golden Boy' moniker that would dominate the sport in the ring and – more significantly – in a commercial sense for a chunk of the modern era was born and De La Hoya went on to win professional world titles in six weight classes.

Floyd Mayweather Jr.

For those hopefuls who leave Tokyo without gold, there are plenty of examples of elite fighters who went on to incredible success without Olympic glory. None more so than all-time great Mayweather, who had to settle for bronze at Atlanta 96 after a controversial points loss to Serafim Todorov. After 50 professional fights and 26 unblemished world title contests across five weight divisions, the unheralded Bulgarian Todorov – who had a brief 6-1 pro career – remains the last man to beat Mayweather in a boxing ring.

Andre Ward

Another US stylist who went his entire professional career without ever tasting defeat, Ward actually managed to go one better than Mayweather before dominating at super-middleweight and light-heavyweight. At the Athens 2004 Games, the Californian outpointed Magomed Aripgadjiev of Belarus to claim light-heavyweight gold.

Vasyl Lomachenko

Ukrainian master Lomachenko boxed for a world title in his second professional fight and quickly became one of boxing's leading pound-for-pound stars. That unprecedented progress through the paid ranks makes a little more sense when you consider his utterly absurd amateur record of 396 wins and one defeat. It wasn't really as if anyone in either the featherweight division at Beijing 2008 or at lightweight during London 2012 stood too much of a chance as Lomachenko swept to consecutive golds.

Anthony Joshua

Packed crowds roaring Joshua on to glory are a long-established theme of his two reigns as unified heavyweight champion. Joshua first felt the thrilling weight of a nation behind him when he snuck past reigning Olympic champion and two-time super-heavyweight champion Italian Roberto Cammarelle on countback at the ExCel Arena on the closing weekend of London 2012, having trailed by three points going into the final round.

Katie Taylor

The only fight on the same level as Joshua's gold medal bout – and arguably a level above – in terms of noise at London 2012 was Taylor's opening clash against Great Britain's Natasha Jonas, a rivalry they reprised in the pro ranks earlier this year. Both times, Taylor in all her whirring majesty was successful and the Irish icon secured lightweight gold in the English capital. She was a five-time world champion in the amateurs and, even though she could not go back-to-back in Rio, she then turned over and set about redefining women's boxing all over again as a two-weight world champion.

Claressa Shields

Taylor has indisputably blazed a trail for female boxers and it is one the classy and cocky Shields has ebulliently followed. Victories over Russia's Nadezda Torlopova at London 2012 and Nouchka Fontijn of the Netherlands at Rio 2016 gave the American back-to-back middleweight golds. She became an undisputed middleweight champion in the pros with a unanimous decision win over the great Christina Hammer in April 2019, before dropping down to do likewise at super-welterweight versus Marie Eve Dicaire earlier this year.

Eddie Hearn has confirmed that September 25 will be the date for Anthony Joshua's fight with Oleksandr Usyk.

The WBO ordered Joshua to step into the fight with former undisputed cruiserweight champion Usyk as a proposed all-British heavyweight battle with Tyson Fury fell through.

IBF, WBA and WBO champion Joshua was due to take on Fury in Saudi Arabia in August before a court arbitration in the United States ruled the WBC strap-holder must face Deontay Wilder for a third time.

With Fury and Wilder III set to be staged in Las Vegas on July 24, Joshua (24-1) will come up against Ukrainian Usyk (18-0) two months later.

Joshua's promoter Hearn did not reveal a venue for the bout, but revealed during an Instagram live chat: "Working towards September 18 or September 25."

The Matchroom boss added: "Joshua-Usyk announcement? Don't want to say two weeks, 'cos you guys are bored of me saying that, but soon - September 25 is the date."

Joshua this week vowed a showdown with Fury is still on the cards.

"Unfortunately, his [Fury's] team let the whole boxing world down," Joshua told Sky Sports. "I will still be here, still ready to put on a show.

"[The Fury fight can happen at the] end of the year. Let me get past Usyk first. But with or without Usyk in my life, I will fight Fury.

"Usyk isn't the be-all and end-all. Usyk doesn't determine the Fury fight. The Fury fight has to happen. It's a big fight, bigger than boxing, bigger than the belts.

"It will happen. After the Usyk fight, after I defend my belts. The fight will be bigger, better than what it would have been."

Anthony Joshua remains convinced his heavyweight blockbuster with Tyson Fury will still happen despite the pair's undisputed showdown collapsing earlier this year.

Joshua, the IBF, WBA and WBO champion, was set to take on Fury in August in Saudi Arabia before a court arbitration in the United States ruled the WBC king must face Deontay Wilder for a third time.

Fury v Wilder III will take place in Las Vegas on July 24, with Joshua now set to face former undisputed cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in September.

As high-quality as those two encounters promise to be, it still amounts to a less-than-ideal situation in terms of the fight boxing's glamour division demands.

Joshua reiterated his belief that the collapse of the bout remains the responsibility of Fury's handlers and pledged to make the bout happen.

"Unfortunately, his team let the whole boxing world down," he told Sky Sports. "I will still be here, still ready to put on a show.

"[The Fury fight can happen at the] end of the year. Let me get past Usyk first. But with or without Usyk in my life, I will fight Fury.

"Usyk isn't the be-all and end-all.

"Usyk doesn't determine the Fury fight. The Fury fight has to happen. It's a big fight, bigger than boxing, bigger than the belts.

"It will happen. After the Usyk fight, after I defend my belts.

"The fight will be bigger, better than what it would have been."

Fury pledged Joshua would be one of several leading heavyweights in line for "the biggest beatdown they have had in their lives" after he faces Wilder, who he believes "would knock Joshua out in the first round".

Joshua added: "I am 100 per cent sure that I will fight him and win. You've got to ask him the same question. I'm not too sure [what he would say].

"We did everything. During a global pandemic, the toughest time to organise a fight like that, we managed to have 20,000 fans available, a site fee, the media ready, my name was on the contract, I was in training.

"Then boom, they cancelled. I stay ready to fight them all because I'm a throwback fighter."

Tyson Fury revealed he has signed a contract to face Deontay Wilder again in a trilogy fight, less than a week after announcing a heavyweight unification bout against Anthony Joshua was "100 per cent on".

Fury has a 30-0-1 record, only failing to win in an initial meeting with Wilder in December 2018.

However, Fury knocked out the American in February 2020 to claim the WBC title, with a clash against British rival Joshua an apparently obvious next step.

Progress looked to have been made on that blockbuster fight and, last weekend, the WBC champion even confirmed a date and venue – August 14 in Saudi Arabia.

A significant complication subsequently emerged, though, as Wilder won an arbitration hearing that stated he had the right to a third Fury bout.

This derailed plans with WBO, IBF and WBA strap-holder Joshua, and Fury instead penned an agreement to take on Wilder once more as he attended Saturday's light welterweight title fight between Josh Taylor and Jose Ramirez.

In a video posted on social media by Top Rank Boxing and shared by Fury, he said: "I'm going to sign the contract for the Wilder III fight, because Wilder's a p****, an excuse-maker and a s***house.

"Shall we do it and put him out his misery?

"[He is going to get] seriously smashed to bits. [I will] crack the other side of his skull, give him another shoulder injury, another bicep injury, another leg injury, a nutsack injury, the whole lot.

"Are you sure now, or shall we just hijack out of here, go to Saudi Arabia and fight someone else?"

The footage then showed Fury signing the paperwork, before he addressed the camera and his opponent: "Wilder, contract signed. You're getting smashed.

"When I say smashed, I mean smash, smash, smash, bang. You're getting knocked out. One round. You're going.

"I've got your soul, your mojo, everything. I own you. Super smashed."

The WBO has ordered Joshua to face Oleksandr Usyk, meanwhile, with any possibility of a Joshua-Fury showpiece now delayed at least until the defence of these titles.

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