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SAUDI SHOWDOWN: Now, I’m ready for Uysk, says Joshua – boxing battle looms

Ten years almost to the day after Anthony Joshua won his Olympic gold medal in London he sits here in Saudi Arabia contemplating how to prevent the glory from turning to dust in the desert.

Joshua’s journey from August 2012 to August 2022 has wrought a renaissance in British boxing.

On Saturday he seeks personal redemption in a rematch with Oleksandr Usyk, the Ukrainian war mascot who seized his world heavyweight titles by sensation 11 months ago.

Failure to do so, many fear, might apply the closing bracket to the career of this two-time world heavyweight champion.

Joshua, 32, refuses to countenance that possibility. But the passage of time does prey on his mind. “Can you believe it? Ten years,” he said. “Where’s the time gone? I didn’t understand it all back then. But I’ve been learning ever since.”

He added: “If I’d known then what I know after losing to Oleksandr I would have trained harder for our first fight.

“Now I’m ready for this one. But there was never a grand plan. I’ve taken each step as it’s come. Thinking about it and then doing it. I’ve thought about this fight. I’m motivated.”

If he needs a confidence boost, then Eddie Hearn’s the man to give it.

Joshua’s Matchroom promoter is never backward in coming forward for his fighters and, as he embarked for Saudi Arabia with doubts swirling around his poster boy’s prospects of regaining his world heavyweight titles here on Saturday night, Hearn was as positive as ever.

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