Sky Sports were forced to apologise on Saturday night after defeated heavyweight Anthony Joshua delivered an x-rated speech in the ring after losing to Oleksandr Usyk. The Brit tasted defeat for the second time against his Ukrainian opponent after falling short in their first match-up 11 months ago.
Joshua came into Saturday’s rematch as the underdog after Usyk convincingly won the pair’s first meeting by unanimous decision. The heavyweight duo ditched the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium for Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, which hosted another entertaining contest.
While the Brit made it a closer fight than the first time around, many onlookers felt as though Usyk won by a wide margin and the split decision awarded was not representative of the action. After the Ukrainian’s triumph, Joshua stormed out of the ring, dropped two heavyweight belts, came back, grabbed the microphone and spoke passionately.
“Usyk, one hell of a f***** fighter, let’s give him a round of applause,” said Joshua. “If you knew my story, you’d understand the passion. I ain’t no amateur boxer that was an elite prospect. I was going to jail.
“I got bail and started training my a*** off. The f****** passion we put into this s***. Tonight, maybe I could’ve done better but it shows the level of hard work he’s put in so please give him a round of applause.
“I’m not a 12-round fighter, look at me. I’m 18 stone, I’m heavy, it’s hard work. What’s happening in Ukraine is not nice, at the end of the day. Usyk as a champion, raise your hands, under those circumstances he managed to become champion.”
Sky Sports commentator Adam Booth was subsequently forced to apologise on behalf of the broadcaster.
It remains to be seen what lies ahead for Joshua, who changed trainers before the rematch in the hope that it could tip the scales in his favour. While he asked questions of his opponent, particularly during spells of the second-half of the fight when he had Usyk scrambling, there was still an apparent gulf in quality.
The likes of Carl Froch and Johnny Nelson believed, before the fight, that Joshua could walk away from the sport if he tasted defeat to the same opponent for a second time. Usyk, meanwhile, reinforced the notion that he is keen to fight Tyson Fury next time out, with the 6ft 9in slugger needing to come out of retirement to make the bout happen.