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Anthony Joshua admits verbal jibes from his rivals played a part in his tactics when he boxed Oleksandr Usyk.

During the 12 round scrap, Joshua was mostly beaten to the punch by the smaller Ukrainian throughout before losing a judges decision and his world heavyweight titles. Now, as Joshua prepares for a rematch, the 32-year old says his refusal to turn things into a dogfight and use his larger frame stemmed from a desire to prove naysayers wrong.

“Usyk came up from cruiserweight, he is a great fighter, a 12-round fighter, and I wanted to box with him for 12 rounds,” Joshua said, speaking with Sky Sports.

“There was always this stigma that I can’t box, that I was this ‘big stiff bodybuilder’. So I said ‘cool, let me practise my boxing’. I tried practising my boxing with Usyk. He won nine rounds, I won three. Next fight, I win four more rounds – I win. So, let me simplify that matter, and I’ll then get on the road to being undisputed champion.”

The big stiff bodybuilder barb has long been a favourite of Joshua rival, Tyson Fury, and prior to the Usyk fight it appeared all was in line for a huge meet between the two Englishmen. Instead, Joshua looks to reclaim his throne and hope to meet the ‘Gypsy King’ in the future.

At present, no date has been announced for the rematch, but it’s believed an April date is on the cards — despite rumours Usyk could instead face Fury in a unification fight.