Joshua Is Closer; Not Close Enough

AJ’s Arrogance?

After the announcement of the result, Anthony Joshua grabbed the mic. That would have been fine had he won. But he didn’t.

It was almost as if he couldn’t believe he had lost. He put the work in. He boxed differently. He still lost.

And his rambling speech was peppered with almost accusations at people’s expectations for his work and his story before finally bigging up the winner.   It was almost as if he wanted us to give him leeway, to take his story to heart. But we all have a story, don’t we?

Clearly, Joshua had prepared remarkably well, that much was clear from his work, he also seemed as if it was a knock on his supreme self-belief. The thing some called arrogance.

All boxers need self-belief. They have to have it, or else why would they risk their health and even life if they don’t believe they can win? Yes, I understand there’s a fiscal pull too…

But that self-belief, when titles are involved, is essential. When does it become arrogance? It’s

 ‘disposed to exaggerate one’s own worth…’

according to Merriam-Webster. And that’s the issue here, Joshua telling us how good he is after losing to Usyk could be seen as an exaggeration.

Did Joshua Make A Good Showing?

Yes. He undoubtedly did. His work with Robert Garcia made changes. The last fight against Usyk, so many seem to opine, saw him trying to box the Ukrainian and falling woefully short.

Here, he stayed out of distance, he had more head movement, and his engine was better. As Boxing News editor Matt Christie praised, this learning should be remarked upon, the distance he had traversed to fulfill a game plan.

Joshua showed he could learn and develop and that’s what he should take away from the fight. That’s difficult when it wasn’t enough.

How Close Did Joshua Come?

Close and not close at all. It wasn’t unanimous for Usyk, two judges had it 116-112 and 115-113 for the champ and one 115-113 for Joshua. But there have been surprised comments at that one card in favor of the Englishman; as TalkSport said;

‘While the right man won in the Oleksandr Usyk vs Anthony Joshua rematch, the scorecards certainly raised some eyebrows.’

Was Usyk ever in trouble in the fight? Yes, he was. Was he ever in danger? No, not really. He shipped some punches, but always came back; that must have been galling for Joshua.

What were the best punches for AJ?

The double jab, which his corner constantly called for and eventually almost pleaded for. Joshua started with that sharp jab, but very quickly it became a range finder rather than a snap. Why did that happen? It could have been tiredness, but it’s more likely to be the movement and counterpunching from Usyk – you can’t jab what isn’t there, you think twice when a punch comes back.

The body punch. When AJ slapped it into the midriff in round 5, it was recorded as low, but it wasn’t twig and berries low, it was just a little low – it drew a big reaction.

And then that round, the 9th, the best for Joshua in the fight, the body shot smacked in again, Usyk holding on, Joshua smiling. It was all too late. This was the 9th round, just think what might have happened if Joshua had worked the body from the beginning of the fight.

It would have slowed Usyk’s movement. That was so necessary for any success. It would have perhaps even broken the guard, which could have been an invitation to the double jab.

Joshua Body Punching
Credit; inews

What might have been, eh?

Some said Joshua should have got tough with Usyk, leaned on him, and use his superior size and heft to assert himself in the fight. And working the body could have been an integral part of that.

Joshua fought smarter and better. But it wasn’t enough.

Let’s Not Forget Usyk

Oleksandr Usyk is a phenomenal fighter. He moves like a cruiserweight, gives himself fantastic movement, keeps himself going from beginning to end, and keeps the punch volume up.

He isn’t a rocket fuelled puncher, but those punches keep coming, he has extraordinary angles, he has amazing movement, he has speed, and he has grace. Grace, that’s important.

He is a fighter naturally. Joshua seems to have to think.

Joshua and Usyk
Credit; MMA Mania

What’s Next?

For Joshua, probably getting back into the title picture. Perhaps a Dillian Whyte fight.  But can Joshua get himself up for that sort of fight? Can he pull himself up the sheer rockface again, handhold over handhold? He put so much into this fight, that much is clear. And he isn’t just a fighter, he’s a brand with sponsors, who need to be considered.

There are no easy journeys here.

Usyk? Come on, have a guess…give us a T, give us a Y…yep, Tyson Fury is on people’s lips. It is a fight hard to call, both combatants have great feet and movement. Usyk will be full of confidence now. Fury always is. But Fury is retired. Let’s leave it at that, shall we?

Two stunning fighters. And Joshua was really good too…

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