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EXCLUSIVE: Anthony Joshua blames his post-fight meltdown when he lost – and threw away – his world title belts on his 'ego and pride' as he admits 'the days of doing it for fun are gone'

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Anthony Joshua has blamed his post-fight meltdown following his defeat to Oleksandr Usyk last year on ‘ego and pride’, with the former heavyweight world champion admitting he is no longer boxing for ‘fun’.

Joshua had hoped to regain his heavyweight titles in a rematch against Usyk last August, following his defeat to the Ukrainian in 2021. 

The British fighter lost on split decision as Usyk retained the titles in Saudi Arabia.

In the aftermath of the defeat, Joshua threw two of Usyk’s belts out of the ring and onto the floor and headed for his changing room before storming back to shake Usyk’s hand.

He then picked up the microphone and went on an expletive-filled rant, discussing the fight, his career, the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, and also led cheers to Usyk.

Anthony Joshua has reflected on the aftermath of his second loss to Oleksandr Usyk last year

Anthony Joshua has reflected on the aftermath of his second loss to Oleksandr Usyk last year

Joshua told Louis Theroux he threw Usyk's belts out of the ring due to his 'ego and pride'

Joshua told Louis Theroux he threw Usyk’s belts out of the ring due to his ‘ego and pride’

Speaking on Louis Theroux Interviews, Joshua said his reaction was based on ‘ego and pride’, as he claimed to have brought the heavyweight division back.

‘It was like these don’t even mean anything anyway,’ Joshua said when discussing his motivation for throwing the belts.

‘I haven’t got them and as I haven’t got them, they don’t mean anything.

‘That was ego and pride coming out, I brought this heavyweight division back, that was in me.

‘Right or wrong’

Theroux interjected ‘Probably wrong, probably wrong I think, I don’t think anyone said it was the right thing to do.’

Joshua admitted that he could have handled the defeat better, but said he was ‘frustrated and annoyed’ after the back-to-back losses to Usyk.

AJ’s post-fight interview ranked among boxing’s most bizarre, as he referenced his youth and troubles with police as a teenager while reflecting on his career. 

The former heavyweight world champion admits he could have handled the aftermath better

The former heavyweight world champion admits he could have handled the aftermath better

Joshua had given a bizarre post-fight interview in the ring following his second loss to Usyk

Joshua had given a bizarre post-fight interview in the ring following his second loss to Usyk

The British star also broken down in tears during his press conference following the defeat

The British star also broken down in tears during his press conference following the defeat

‘If you knew my story you would understand the passion. I ain’t no amateur boxer from five-years-old that was an elite prospect from youth,’ Joshua said in the ring.

‘I was going to jail, I got bail and I started training my a*** off, I wanted to be able to fight.

‘I’m stealing this Usyk I’m sorry, but it’s because of the passion we put into this. This guy to beat me tonight, maybe I could have done better, but it shows the level of hard work I put in so please give him a round of applause as our heavyweight champion of the world.’

‘I’m not a 12 round fighter, look at me, I’m a new breed of heavyweights, Mike Tyson, Sonny Liston, Jack Dempsey, “you don’t throw combinations like Rocky Marciano”, I’m 18 stone, I’m heavy, it’s hard work.

‘This guy here is a phenomenal talent, we’re going to cheer for him three times’.

Joshua also broke down in tears during his post-fight press conference in Saudi Arabia.

The 34-year-old admitted to Theroux that has been impacted by the pressure on him and is no longer boxing for fun. 

‘I knew I was out of the title race and the questions started, “What is he like, where is his head at”, all this “can he be three-time champion of the world”,’ Joshua said.

‘People now create this narrative and put pressure on me, it’s too much.

‘Gone are the days when it was for the fun, when you are just doing it for the passion and you are a prospect.’

The two-time heavyweight world champion has bounced back from his losses to Usyk by beating Jermaine Franklin and Robert Helenius this year.

Joshua has been linked with potential fights against Agit Kabayel, Filip Hrgovic and Otto Wallin.

Francis Ngannou has emerged as a possible opponent after the MMA star’s impressive boxing debut against Tyson Fury.

Louis Theroux Interviews is on BBC Two and BBC iPlayer at 9pm tonight