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Victory: Oleksandr Usyk feels he was 30 seconds from stopping Anthony Joshua in first fight

Oleksandr Usyk is refusing to allow his belief that he almost knocked out Anthony Joshua to affect his mindset going into their rematch next week.

The Ukrainian had then-champion Joshua on the ropes in the final seconds of their meeting at the Tottenham Hotspur stadium last year, and reckons just 30 seconds separated them from a stoppage. It would have been the first time a referee had to stop a fight since he moved up to heavyweight in 2019, and been a true crowning moment for him at the weight.

But the bell saved Joshua, who ultimately lost a lopsided unanimous decision on the night, before immediately exercising his automatic rematch clause. And Usyk is trying not to think deeply about their previous meeting before the pair get back into it on August 20 in Saudi Arabia with the belts on the line.

“Perhaps if there were another 30 seconds or another minute in the 12th round, Anthony would have been knocked down,” Usyk told the Parimatch blog when asked about the previous fight. “But I don’t think about it anymore because it’s just guessing. It happened as it happened. I boxed 12 rounds and I won.”

Usyk had moved up a few years prior, but had struggled to impress against Chazz Witherspoon and Derek Chisora, both of whom wouldn’t be considered as world level competitors. But after earning the top spot with the WBO and being made mandatory challenger, Usyk was thrust into a world title bout with Joshua when his undisputed fight with Tyson Fury fell to the wayside.

And the Ukrainian threw out the schedule for the rest of the year when he dominated proceedings from bell to bell and took home a comfortable decision, as well as three of the four major world titles. He has now flipped the script with oddsmakers, and is as much a heavy favourite as he was an underdog for the rematch.

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