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Boxing News of Tuesday, 17 May 2022


‘Mentally fit’ Joshua tipped to edge Usyk in title rematch

Anthony Joshua and Oleksandr Usyk Anthony Joshua and Oleksandr Usyk

Anthony Joshua’s stable-mate Frazer Clarke believed the heavyweight star is mentally stronger heading into his rematch with Oleksandr Usyk.

The British icon, 32, had his WBA, WBO and IBF titles ripped away by the unbeaten Ukrainian at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in September.

AJ and Usyk are expected to meet in a rematch planned for July 23 with the 2012 Olympic gold medallist looking to become a three-time world champion.

No location has yet been announced, but promoter Eddie Hearn has declared the blockbuster bout could take place in the Middle East.

He told iFL TV: “I think there’s a very good chance you’ll see that fight July 23rd in the Middle East. We’re closing in on that option.”

Joshua has good memories of fighting in the Middle East having beat Andy Ruiz Jr in their December 2019 rematch in Saudi Arabia.

Following his defeat to Usyk, Joshua has promoted Angel Fernandez from coach to head trainer in place of long-time mentor Rob McCracken.

Heavyweight prospect Clarke, who is also trained by Fernandez, believed the Watford native will be better prepared mentally for his second meeting with Usyk.

He told Sky Sports: “I think the loss has made him better. He’s opened his eyes a bit.

“It’s made him mentally better. I think he knows what he needs to do.

“I think he’s changed his situation, which he thinks will help him.

“He’s got a team of people that are dedicated for one thing, and that’s AJ getting the result.

“You can’t write Usyk off, he’s an unbelievable fighter.

“But I’d like to think AJ’s in a place where he can go on and get this win.”