Veteran British heavyweight Derek Chisora believes Anthony Joshua needs to be willing to get flattened on the canvas if he has any hopes of defeating Oleksandr Usyk.
London’s Joshua will attempt to reclaim his WBA, WBO, IBO and IBF heavyweight titles from Ukraine’s Usyk in their upcoming heavyweight title unification rematch this summer, set to be held on August 20 in Saudi Arabia. Their first match, which took place in September at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, saw the southpaw Usyk control the fight behind his jab, feints, and hard left hands, en route to a unanimous decision. After the fight, Joshua was heavily criticized for trying to box his way past an elite boxer.
Chisora, Joshua’s compatriot, believes the heavyweight star needs to show up in aggressive form in order for him to have a chance to become champion again. In fact, Chisora went so far as to say that another points defeat from Usyk could be one of the worst outcomes for Joshua, as it would suggest that Joshua did not fight to his fullest potential.
“If AJ gets knocked out it’s good for him,” Chisora told IFL TV. “If he loses on points, it’s bad for him, you understand? If he loses on points, he’s going to kick himself for the next 20 years. But if he gets knocked out, [he can say] ‘I got knocked out. I can’t do anything after I get knocked out in the fifth round. If you went up to the sixth round I would’ve knocked him out.’”
Known for his gutsy, no-holds-barred approach in the ring, Chisora offered himself as an example of the kind of mentality that Joshua should assume for the Usyk rematch. Chisora referred to the time he was in a dogfight with fellow Brit Dillian Whyte – a rematch of their 2016 encounter – in 2018. The competitive contest ended in the 11th round, when Whyte stopped Chisora with a left hand; Chisora was ahead on two of the judges’ scorecards.
“So you have to understand is when I got knocked out by Dillian in my last fight I didn’t complain?” Chisora said. “Did you see me complain? No. I got knocked the f--- out…but boxing if you get knocked out, it’s the better way for you to go out. Usyk can only knock AJ out in the later rounds. But the first eight rounds, AJ will knock him out.
“He tried something and at the time it was working for him. But it didn’t work for him when it came to fight night.”
For most of his career, Joshua, 32, maintained a reputation as one of the fearsome punchers in the heavyweight division. But since his upset loss to Andy Ruiz in 2019, Joshua has seemingly adopted a far more defensive-minded, risk-averse style at odds with the come-forward manner for which he was known early on in his career.
Chisora (32-12, 23 KOs), who is scheduled to take on Kubrat Pulev in the headliner event at O2 Arena in London on July 9, believes Joshua needs to return to that formula.
“He tried [boxing], it didn’t work, so he’s gone back to the drawing board,” Chisora said. “He has to realize and forget all this nonsense (about boxing). Put power through this guy, that’s it.”