I left the ring so that I would not do something stupid.
Anthony Joshua revealed he left the ring before he did something stupid following his defeat by Oleksandr Usyk.
Joshua was beaten on points for the second time in 11 months but delivered an improved performance to go down fighting by split decision. But the Brit then stunned his opponent – and the crowd in Jeddah – when he stormed out of the ring only to return moments later, grab a microphone and deliver an X-rated speech.
And the former two-time world champion later admitted he feared he would do something he regretted if he didn’t leave the squared circle. “When you try and do things from the heart… it was from the heart,” he said at the post-fight press conference.
“I knew I was mad at myself, not at anyone, just at myself. I thought I had to get out of there because I was mad. Like anyone, when you’re mad you might do stupid things. Then I realised, ‘S*** it’s a sport, let’s do the right thing and come back’.”
Joshua’s speech included a trip down memory lane as he reminded fans where he had come from. The Brit had been destined for prison as a youngster before boxing placed him on the right path. And he added: “In the speech I just spoke about where i came from, I was on the road and in the ring I made a transition. I laid it all on the line with my speech.
“It’s been so tough. You see AJ holding it together; I’m a hustler… but it comes at a cost, a big cost. It will never break me but it takes real strength to not let it break me. Tonight there was a crack in the armour because I’d taken a defeat.”
Joshua also paid tribute to Usyk in his rambling speech which some fans put down to him having suffered a potential concussion. “I could have done better, but it showed the hard work he must have put in to beat me. Please give him a round of applause as our heavyweight champion of the world,” he said.
“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 am 18 stone, I am heavy. It is hard work. This guy here is a phenomenal talent. We are going to cheer for him.”