Joshua called Klitschko ‘to ask for Ukraine role’ after Usyk defeat

Anthony Joshua falls by split decision in Oleksandr Usyk rematch

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Oleksandr Usyk has revealed that Anthony Joshua called Wladimir Klitschko shortly after his second defeat to the former undisputed cruiserweight champion to offer his help to Ukraine. Joshua asked how he could be useful to the country’s defence against the ongoing Russian invasion.

Joshua was beaten by Usyk for a second time in August in Saudi Arabia. Despite a much-improved performance the Watford powerhouse was unable to overcome his tricky foe and fell to defeat via a split decision.

After the contest, a frustrated Joshua made headlines when he stormed out of the ring before returning to snatch the mic and deliver an impassioned speech. Many criticised him for stealing Usyk’s moment but Joshua has since apologised and went on to extend a classy gesture to his former opponent’s home country.

“I know that Anthony [Joshua] called Wladimir Klitschko and asked how he could be useful to Ukraine or help and I have double respect for him for that. So, that’s where it comes in; boxing and helping,” he told Parimatch Ukraine.

Joshua is now set to return to the ring on April 1 against Jermaine Franklin in a fight that carries massive implications. A loss could spell the end of his career. Meanwhile, a victory sets up blockbuster showdowns with Dillian Whyte, Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury who have all been teased as possible future opponents by promoter Eddie Hearn.

Ahead of the crunch clash, Joshua axed former lead Robert Garcia after only four months of working together. The 33-year-old referenced comments made by Garcia that he had ‘mentally defeated himself’ in the championship rounds of the Usyk rematch as a reason for the split.

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In his place, Joshua recruited the services of esteemed trainer Derrick James, who is the man behind the successes of Jermell Charlo and Errol Spence Jr. Speaking about the link-up, James said: “The world hasn’t seen the best of Anthony Joshua. I know Franklin is a really good fighter, so we’re taking this very seriously. I think he [Joshua] will be the guy he is supposed to be on the night.

“He’s understanding everything I’m telling him to do,” he added. “I won’t talk about what I’m most impressed with because that’s a giveaway but he’s a great fighter, he’s very athletic, good foot movement and very intellectual first and foremost. His hand speed is also great and I’m very interested and can’t wait to keep going.”

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