Anthony Joshua was accused of “stealing Usyk’s moment” by former world champion Carl Froch after taking the microphone and giving a slightly bizarre speech to the crowd following his split decision loss in their world heavyweight title rematch.
Having gone down 115-113, 116-112, 113-115 on the scorecards after an improved performance in the rematch of their one-sided initial contest, Joshua stormed out of the ring before returning, chucking away a couple of the belts and then taking the microphone.
He monologued in slightly frantic fashion, talking up his own performance, declaring himself a “new breed” of heavyweight, and ridiculing comparisons to Mike Tyson, although he did also pay tribute to his familiar conqueror.
“I am giving you my story,” began Joshua. “I was going to jail. I got bailed and started training my arse off, because if I got sentenced then I would not have been able to fight.
“I could have done better, but it showed the hard work he must have put in to beat me. This guy is a phenomenal talent, how many belts you got bro, five? We are going to cheer for him. Hip-hip, hooray!
“I studied all your champions, what’s happening there, I don’t know, but I know it’s not nice. There were issues in Ukraine. Klitschko vs Williams. Usyk, under those circumstances, he became champ.”
“I’m not a 12-round fighter. I am a new breed of heavyweight, Mike Tyson, Sonny Liston – they say ‘he doesn’t throw combinations like Rocky Marciano,’ because I’m not 14 stone. I am 18 stone, I am heavy.”
The outburst prompted mixed reactions, with some saluting Joshua’s passion and heart but Frazer Clarke was among those to say his team should have stepped in to stop him, while former super middleweight world champion Froch – working as a pundit for Sky Sports Box Office – wasn’t impressed.
Froch said: “He stole Usyk’s moment. He didn’t say anything that would offend anybody too much. He stole Usyk’s moment. He was emotionally built up. I didn’t like the belts being chucked. It was disrespectful.”
Fellow pundit Lawrence Okolie also believes it wasn’t the way to act, saying: “I’m sure he will regret it, it was Usyk’s time. We can only imagine the pressure he’s under. It’s a reflection of boxing. He was left alone by his team. A war and nobody stepped in to do the right thing.”
Commentator Matthew Macklin was slightly more equivocal, stating: “It was strange. Emotions running high. He was probably a bit concussed.
“Everybody knocking him, we’re not dealing with that. He’s disappointed. He pushed himself to the limit. The timing wasn’t great.”