Anthony Joshua triggered a rematch clause against Oleksandr Usyk for the heavyweight championship, promoter Eddie Hearn confirmed.

Joshua was dethroned by Usyk, who was crowned WBA, WBO and IBF champion after a unanimous points decision victory at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London on September 25.

Now 24-2, having also suffered a shock defeat to Andy Ruiz Jr. in 2019 before winning their rematch, Joshua is set to step into the ring again with Usyk next year.

"Joshua is training now, and today we officially triggered the rematch for the Oleksandr Usyk fight, which we will see early next spring," Hearn told DAZN.

"So back in the game and looking for him to become a three-time heavyweight champion."

Joshua had been tipped for a long-awaited duel with Tyson Fury next year before his upset at the hands of Ukrainian opponent Usyk.

Fury is due to face Deontay Wilder in Las Vegas on Saturday as they conclude a contentious trilogy – the former won the second bout following a draw.

"As I said, I'll fight Tyson Fury, Wilder, without the belts. The belts are fun. It's great, it's legacy. But with or without the belts, I'll fight whoever," Joshua said after his loss to Usyk.

"The road to undisputed is a nice title to have and a nice title to chase.

"But would you still watch it, without the belts? That's the main thing – is you've got two competitive fighters in the ring from UK soil, that just want to go toe-to-toe."

Anthony Joshua made the "worst decision ever" when he tried to outbox Oleksandr Usyk, his manager Eddie Hearn admits.

Undefeated Usyk was crowned WBA, WBO and IBF heavyweight champion after a unanimous points decision victory over Joshua at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on September 25.

Joshua must now win a rematch, expected to be held in March 2022, to reclaim his belts, as he has done previously after suffering a shock defeat to Andy Ruiz in 2019.

Hearn insists Joshua will have a different approach next time after acknowledging his fighter and coach Rob McCracken got it all wrong in the first bout against former cruiserweight king Usyk.

He told talkSPORT: "Usyk is another level of boxing intelligence to anyone, so what is the last thing you do? Box him! And try to outbox him, try and be more intelligent than him. 

"For some reason, AJ had it in his head that he could outbox him, maybe out of stubbornness or maybe a little bit of ignorance as well.

"Worst decision ever. The only way you're going to beat Usyk is to use your size, use your attributes.

"AJ is one of the most devastating punchers out there; great combination punching, speed, everything. You’ve got to back him up, you’ve got to beat him up.

"But these are all the things that maybe he knew he had to do, but he thought he could outbox Usyk, which is a disastrous strategy quite frankly."

Joshua will come into the rematch heavier in order to utilise his size and power advantage.

Hearn added: "In the rematch, there is no secrets. He's going to fight exactly the opposite; he's going to come in heavier, he's going to try to bulldoze him, beat him up.

"Usyk was saying after the fight, 'I was hurt a few times in the fight', and he was. From nothing.

"When AJ gets hold of him, it will be a different story. But, it's like [fighting] Tyson Fury, you've got to get hold of him.

"AJ has got to be ruthless, not completely reckless, but he was outboxed. 

"He is not going to outbox Usyk. This is what has got to be drummed into him in camp, he loves watching these old fighters and the sweet science. Forget it.

"If the AJ that boxed Wladimir Klitschko boxed Usyk the other night, I believe he wins. So he has got to back to that devastating style which made him what he is.

"He has improved so much as a boxer, but right now, that is the last thing we need."

Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua could still go head-to-head in the ring even if the latter "isn't a champion" because the British public would still "buy into" the occasion, according to promoter Frank Warren.

Fury is set to face Deontay Wilder in Las Vegas on Saturday as they conclude a contentious trilogy, and while the 'Gypsy King' is seen as favourite, he will be well aware of what could happen if he fails to hit top form after seeing Joshua come up short.

Joshua, who was tipped for a long-awaited duel with Fury next year, was beaten by Oleksandr Usyk at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in September.

With Joshua now having to focus on reclaiming his lost WBA, IBF and WBO titles from Usyk in a rematch that is likely to take place in February, any bout with Fury now looks a long way off.

Though Warren, co-promoter for Fury, is adamant an appetite for the fight will remain even if Joshua does not go into the contest as a champion.

"I do believe the public buys into that fight even if AJ isn't champion," Warren told BBC Sport.

"AJ's said a lot of things since the fight [and] a lot of nonsense from 'doctor' [Joshua's promoter, Eddie] Hearn about his eye. You got beat by the better man on the night and Joshua said that, to his credit.

"Joshua is a big fight. They keep talking about him still learning. He's 32 years old. He's an Olympic champion and world champion.

"Of course, you can still learn every day, but at that level, at 32 years of age, with the experience you've got and the amount of professional fights you've got, if you're not absolutely world class at that level, then you're never going to be.

"But having said that, if he did fight Tyson he would have a lot to prove and I do think the public would buy into it."

Either way, Warren expects Fury to return to fight in the UK for the first time since 2018 regardless of who he fights next after Wilder.

"There's no Americans out there for him to fight. I think he'll be back here which will be a great homecoming," he continued.

"If Tyson wins the fight, we'll sit down. There's a few options there. Usyk would be a massive fight here. The Joshua fight is still a massive fight.

"Dillian Whyte is a big fight, providing he beats Otto Wallin, which isn't a foregone conclusion. There's some big fights for him."

Wladimir Klitschko says Anthony Joshua "can still have his time" after he was dethroned by Oleksandr Usyk last Saturday.

Usyk outclassed Joshua at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, earning a unanimous points decision to win the IBF, WBA and WBO world heavyweight titles.

Joshua is set to face the unbeaten Ukrainian in a rematch following the second defeat of his career.

Brit Joshua said he has "learned his lesson" from the loss to Usyk, two years after Andy Ruiz Jr sensationally stopped him at Madison Square Garden.

Klitschko was beaten by Corrie Sanders and Lamon Brewster in 2003 and 2004 respectively but responded by going 11 years without defeat.

The former world heavyweight champion, who lost to Joshua in the final fight of his career, says his former rival can put his latest setback behind him.

"We have seen AJ challenged," he told Sky Sports.

"I remember my time. I lost two fights within [13 months]. To bounce back? To eventually become one of the longest reigning champions?

"AJ can still have his time, absolutely. It is all about how to overcome the challenge."

Klitschko was not surprised to see his compatriot Usyk become a heavyweight champion for the first time.

"Since 2012, I watched Usyk winning his [Olympic] gold and I watched AJ winning his gold.

"Usyk has been undefeated for such a long time, winning all the titles as a cruiserweight and now with the heavyweights. This man is something special."

Anthony Joshua says he has "learned his lesson" following his defeat to Oleksandr Usyk last weekend.

The former IBF, WBA and WBO champion relinquished his titles after an inspired performance by his Ukrainian opponent at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Joshua failed to recover from a slow start and subsequently slipped to his second defeat in four fights, with Usyk prevailing after 12 rounds in a unanimous points decision to maintain his unbeaten record as a professional.

The two fighters are reportedly set to do battle once more in early 2022 after the dethroned heavyweight champion "activated in principle" a rematch clause.

Now 24-2, Joshua insists he knows where he went wrong as the Briton looks to reclaim his belts.

Posting on Instagram, he told his 13 million followers: "I've watched the fight, analysed my preparations and identified my mistakes.

"I've learnt my lesson. Thanks for sending love and checking in. 

"Don't worry about me. My spirit is strong!"

Tyson Fury says he was "absolutely wounded" by Anthony Joshua's defeat to Oleksandr Usyk last weekend.

Usyk claimed Joshua's IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight titles on Saturday, outclassing the champion at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

The 19-0 Usyk mastered Joshua, earning a unanimous points decision to leave the prospect of a unification fight between Fury and his fellow Briton in tatters.

With Joshua now looking set for a rematch with Usyk, Fury will put his WBC belt on the line when he faces Deontay Wilder for a third time at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on October 9.

Fury revealed he was rocked by the second defeat Joshua has suffered in his career.

He said: "Did I watch the fight? Yes I did. Was I absolutely wounded that he won? Yes I was. I was hoping Joshua could win the fight, but he couldn't – and that’s none of my business.

"The only thing I'm bothered about is beating Deontay Wilder, and that's the most dangerous heavyweight out there. In my opinion, Wilder beats Joshua, Usyk, all the rest of the division, comfortable – but he cannot beat me."

Fury stated that he has "no interest in slating anybody or kicking anybody while they are down".

He added: "It ain't my style. I like to pick on someone who is doing well, successful, on top of the game – I don’t like picking on people who are down and probably at their lowest point and probably mentally unstable and unwell with a big loss after such a long reign.

"Usyk did his job, he had to do what he had to do, and that's that, and Joshua has got to do what he has got to do."

Fury is focused on beating Wilder for a second time rather than who he might fight after doing battle with the American.

"I don't care about anybody else – they are not on my radar, only the 'Bronze Bomber', aka the big dosser," he said.

"After him, we will talk, the promoters will do their job, and I will always do mine. Never worry about the 'Gypsy King' fulfilling his end of a bargain – I will always f****** fight until there's not a fight left in me.

"You just worry about the other people doing their end of the bargain."

Fury warned Wilder he has no chance of gaining revenge.

"I'm in fantastic shape, fit as a fiddle. I'm absolutely ready, today, tomorrow and forever. I'll always be ready, and I'll never make excuses," he said.

"When I beat Wilder, I'll be on to the next one, so on and so forth. It's never about the opponent. It's the Tyson Fury show until I hang those gloves up. Until that day, it's all about me, and the roadshow continues. All these years, 2008 to 2021, and I'm still undefeated.

"There ain't a man out there born from his mother that can stop me or beat me. I haven't seen one yet anyway. Maybe he’s not born, or maybe he is but he hasn’t got the guts to come and fight me."

Manny Pacquiao will go down as one of the greatest fighters of all time and newly crowned world heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk possesses a similar skillset, says Joseph Parker.

Pacquiao's decorated boxing career has come to an end, with the sport's only eight-division world champion announcing his retirement.

His decision came under a month after his unanimous points loss to Yordenis Ugas for the WBA super welterweight title.

The 42-year-old had made his boxing return against Ugas for the first time since July 2019, but the Filipino's comeback did not go according to plan in Las Vegas.

Pacquiao, who has declared his candidacy in the 2022 Philippine presidential election, retires with a record of 62 wins (39 knockouts), eight losses and two draws.

Heavyweight contender Parker, who was speaking prior to the formal announcement from Pacquiao, suggested he did not want to see one of the best boxers in history fight on. 

He also thinks Usyk, who has just been crowned WBA, WBO and IBF champion after defeating Anthony Joshua, possesses some of the same traits.

"I feel like he's going to go down as one of the best of all time," New Zealander Parker said to Stats Perform.

"It is quite hard to see someone like Pacquiao to continue to fight when he had this great legacy and great career. 

"And now he can still beat a lot of guys but it is hard to see someone who is not in his prime. They keep fighting and let these guys get the better of them."

Describing what makes Pacquiao special, Parker added: "I feel like he is similar to [Usyk]; his movement, his footwork; he's very quick on his feet and also the volume of punches that he throws. 

"He throws a lot of punches and combinations. 

"And I feel like it's really hard to fight someone like Pacquiao when he's trying throwing all these punches and the movement that he presents.

"His legacy? The eight-time division champion - just the achievement of that and a lot of a lot of young fighters look up to him. 

"You have to say that he's going to go down in history and he's going to always be talked about, as an eight-time division world champion. 

"And he can give a lot back to the sport by teaching the [young] fighters, signing other fighters and just being involved as a manager or promoter, as he knows the game and set up.

"My favourite Pacquiao fight? I really like the fight against Ricky Hatton. Just the timing and precision of when he landed the big shot to finish the fight. 

"Hatton is a beast himself and has had a great career, but when you’re in the ring with Manny Pacquiao it’s a different story."

Manny Pacquiao's decorated boxing career has come to an end, the sport's only eight-division world champion announcing his retirement.

Pacquiao called time on his career inside the ring a month after his unanimous decision loss to Yordenis Ugas for the WBA super welterweight title.

The 42-year-old had made his boxing return against Ugas for the first time since July 2019, but the Filipino great's comeback did not go according to plan in Las Vegas.

Pacquiao, who has declared his candidacy in the 2022 Philippine presidential election, retires with a record of 62 wins (39 knockouts), eight losses and two draws.

Regarded as one of the greatest boxers of all time, Pacquiao – the first fighter to win major world titles in four of the eight glamour divisions; flyweight, featherweight, lightweight and welterweight – is the only boxer to hold world championships across four decades in the 1990s, 2000s, 2010s and 2020s.

"It is difficult for me to accept that my time as a boxer is over. Today, I am announcing my retirement," Pacquiao said in a video on his Facebook page, having scored wins over the likes of Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton and Miguel Cotto during his storied career.

"Wow... I never thought that this day would come. As I hang up my boxing gloves, I would like to thank the whole world especially the Filipino people, for supporting Manny Pacquiao."

Pacquiao, who made his professional debut aged 16, said: "You gave me the chance to fight our way out of poverty. Because of you, I was able to inspire people all over the world. Because of you, I have been given the courage to change more lives. I will never forget what I have done and accomplished in my life, I can't imagine.

"I just heard the final bell. Tapos na ang boksing [boxing is done]. Maraming, maraming salamat po [thank you very much]. God is good all the time.

"I was given the opportunity of representing the Philippines, bringing fame and honour to my country every time I entered the ring. I am grateful for all my accomplishments and the opportunity to inspire the fans."

 

Anthony Joshua is relishing the chance to fight Oleksandr Usyk in London and said he would "give it a go" against King Kong for the love of the sport.

The IBF, WBA and WBO belts will be on the line when the Ukrainian faces the heavyweight champion at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Saturday.

Usyk came to Thursday's pre-fight media event dressed like The Joker, but the formalities were very professional as the pair faced off and shook hands in a respectful, if intense, manner.

Former undisputed cruiserweight champion Usyk, 34, might be facing a height and weight disadvantage, but Joshua has plenty of admiration for a fighter he is excited to face.

"I wasn't on the amateur scene long enough to know much about Oleksandr but when I turned professional I did a lot of research and I love the Ukrainian style and the Ukrainian people," he said.

"He was fighting 10 or 12 years as an amateur before he went to the Olympics and worlds, so he is probably happy to be in this position – the cream always rises to the top.

"I love throwback fighters. I do watch a lot of boxing and I don't fight good people just to get respect.

"If you tell me I was fighting King Kong, I would give it a go. This is my job. I'm going to work. It's the best days of my life.

"I work hard to make sure boxing is really respected, and I pay them back by putting in a lot of work in the gym.

"I'm not an easy fight for anyone, I like fighting. God has blessed me, shown me the path to get into boxing. I'm here, blessed, happy and don't take it for granted."

Usyk's promoter Alexander Krassyuk described Joshua as "the best in the division" with "the heart of a warrior", although he warned the Briton he was facing the toughest fight of his career.

"I can do a lot more," Usyk said through an interpreter. "I feel fine, and I look forward to this. I want to thank the team and Eddie Hearn, and I'm grateful this is happening on Saturday.

"Every fight makes history and I think me and Anthony will make another step in history, something that people will be talking about, remember and will be watching on television."

Oleksandr Usyk will aim to make the most of his opportunity on Saturday, with the Ukrainian looking to upset the odds and dethrone Anthony Joshua in London. 

Already holding the IBF, WBA and WBO titles, heavyweight Joshua appeared set for a hugely lucrative unification showdown with Tyson Fury, holder of the WBC belt, that would identify an undisputed champion in the division. 

An arbitration hearing put paid to that plan, though, as Fury was ordered to face Deontay Wilder for a third time, denying boxing fans the fight they desperately wanted to see. 

However, Usyk is an intriguing prospect for Joshua to deal with. Dominant at cruiserweight before stepping up, the 34-year-old has the potential to cause problems, considering both his boxing skills and outstanding resume. 

Britain may dominate right now, but fighters from Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Republics have ruled the roost at different times, albeit with varying degrees of longevity.  

 

VITALI KLITSCHKO

The baton passed from the famed heavyweights of the 1990s to the coming generation when Lennox Lewis uncharacteristically slugged his way to victory over Vitali Klitschko in Los Angeles in June 2003. The last man standing from his era after comprehensively beating Mike Tyson, Lewis was given hell by "Dr Steelhammer" but managed to inflict enough damage for the challenger to be stopped on cuts after six gruelling rounds.

Lewis never boxed again and Klitschko never lost again, winning 13 fights in succession either side of a four-year retirement. He lifted the WBC title and settled a family grudge by stopping Corrie Sanders in April 2004. He was never without the famous green belt in the ring up until he hung up his gloves in 2012 to focus full-time on a political career than now sees Vitali serving at the Mayor of Kyiv.

WLADIMIR KLITSCHKO

The younger Klitschko was the first eastern European to lift a heavyweight title in the 21st century when he twice floored Chris Byrd on the way to a unanimous decision to win the WBO belt in October 2000. Byrd became champion in his previous fight when, way down on the cards, Vitali withdrew on his stool due to a shoulder injury. It meant Vitali was returning a favour against Sanders, who demolished Wladimir over two harrowing rounds in March 2003.

Another knockout loss followed a little over a year with the vacant WBO strap on the line against Lamon Brewster. At that stage, it was impossible to foresee the imperious dominance that would follow a second win over Byrd for the IBF and 18 successful defences. Closing out his career with losses to Fury and Joshua carried a heavy sense changing eras, as with his brother and Lewis a decade and a half earlier.

NIKOLAI VALUEV

All the men on this list could lay claim to the moniker of "Beast from the East" but none would be able to pull it off as well as the preposterously proportioned Valuev. Standing at 7ft and tipping the scales at over 300lbs, he became the tallest and heaviest heavyweight champion in history. Valuev's skills were akin to a rudimentary club fighter, but he was just far too big for most opponents to handle.

Each of his two stints as WBA ruler began with prophetically forgettable points wins over John Ruiz and after a 2008 loss to a pot-shotting David Haye he walked away to a varied post-fight career. Like Klitschko he entered politics, winning election to the State Duma in Russia's 2011 parliamentary election. He also became an unlikely face of children's television in his homeland, presenting the long-running "Good Night, Little Ones!".

SIARHEI LIAKHOVICH

Liakhovich's period reign as WBO champion lasted seven months. The Belarusian won a unanimous decision win over Brewster in April 2006, despite taking a knee in the seventh. He was up on the cards when Shannon Briggs dramatically knocked him through the ropes during the closing seconds of his first defence. Briggs was the last American to get his hands on any portion of the heavyweight title before Wilder's WBC reign began in 2015. Two years earlier, the "Bronze Bomber" left Liakhovich quivering on the canvas after a terrifying first-round KO.

OLEG MASKAEV

Three months before Briggs' late show against Liakhovich, Maskaev battered one-time Lewis conqueror Hasim Rahman to defeat inside the final minute of their August 2006 rematch in Las Vegas. A product of the Soviet amateur system, Maskaev based himself in the US for the majority of his professional career. He was 37 by the time he ripped the WBC crown from Rahman and, after a successful defence against Okello Peter in Moscow, the Kazakh-born fighter was knocked out by Samuel Peter - the "Nigerian Nightmare" who was himself stopped by a returning Vitali Klitschko next time out.

RUSLAN CHAGAEV

If the WBA was a sofa, Chagaev would be the loose change they continue to find lurking between the cushions. He first won the organisation's belt with a majority decision win over Valuev in April 2007, although subsequent illness and injury led to him being declared "champion in recess". As such, the WBA belt was not on the line when his corner waved off a June 2009 shellacking at the hands of Wladimir Klitschko after nine rounds.

The organisation then elected to install Chagaev not as its champion but number one challenger, and he dropped an August 2011 decision to Alexander Povetkin for the vacant belt. The story did not end there, however, as Chagaev and the unheralded Fres Oquendo were selected to box for the WBA's vacant "regular" title in July 2014. Almost two years and one competitive round later, Chagaev was knocked out by Lucas Browne, who then failed a drugs test. The Uzbek was given back his title, only to be stripped in July 2016 for failing to pay the WBA sanctioning fees for that already barely remembered Oquendo contest, seemingly ending the saga.

SULTAN IBRAGIMOV

Not one to linger like Chagaev, Russia's Sydney 2000 heavyweight silver medallist Ibragimov outpointed Briggs in his 22nd professional bout to lift the WBO belt in June 2007. Under the tutelage of Jeff Mayweather, he comfortably beat the great Evander Holyfield in his first defence. A unification showdown with Wladimir Klitschko was most notable for the Madison Square Garden crowd booing a safety-first affair. With that sole defeat, Ibragimov was gone, retiring in 2009 due to persistent injuries to his left hand.

ALEXANDER POVETKIN

Another decorated amateur, Povetkin won super-heavyweight gold at the 2004 Olympics and made four defences of the WBA title after beating Chagaev. To repeat a theme, all roads led to an uncompromising Klitschko, with Wladimir sending him to the canvas four times during a landslide Moscow triumph in October 2013. Failed drugs tests did little for Povetkin's wider reputation and put paid to a proposed meeting with Wilder.

A promising start unravelled to a seventh-round stoppage when challenging Joshua in September 2018, although Povetkin sensationally recovered from two knockdowns to ice Dillian Whyte this year. After losing the rematch, the Russian announced his retirement at the age of 41.

Manny Pacquiao has declared his boxing career is over although the head of his promotional team moved to dispel retirement talk.

The 42-year-old southpaw lost to Yordenis Ugas last month, with many predicting that would end up being his last fight.

Pacquiao had on Sunday announced his intention to run for the Philippines presidency next year.

The former eight-weight world champion told Toni Talks that he is done with boxing.

"My boxing career is already over," Pacquiao said.

"It's done because I've been in boxing for a long time and my family says that it is enough."

However, Pacquiao's head of promotions Sean Gibbons moved to water down any retirement talk just yet.

"The Senator is a presidential candidate and has made no decision on his boxing career yet," Gibbons told Yahoo Sports.

"He will in the next few weeks make a final decision whether to have one more or retire."

Pacquiao had not fought competitively for more than two years prior to last month's WBA welterweight defeat to Ugas.

The Filipino has a 62-8-2 professional boxing record, with 39 wins by knockout.

Manny Pacquiao's return to the ring has ended in a unanimous resolution defeat to Yordenis Ugas in their world welterweight title fight in Las Vegas on Saturday.

The 42-year-old Filipino was making his return to boxing for the first time since beating Keith Thurman in July 2019, going in as favourite against Ugas, who is seven years younger.

The Cuban, who took the fight on 11 days' notice following Errol Spence Jr's withdrawal due to an eye injury, used his jab wisely along with his agility and counter game.

Pacquiao appeared to lack his trademark speed and power while Ugas ensured he owned the middle of the ring early.

Ugas was awarded the unanimous decision victory 115-113, 116-112, 116-112 to defend the welterweight title which the World Boxing Association stripped from Pacquiao for "inactivity" earlier this year.

The victory improved Ugas' professional record to 27-4, while Pacquiao slips to 62-2-8, prompting discussion about his future in boxing given his age.

"I don’t know," Pacquiao said when asked about retiring after the fight. "Let me rest first and relax and make a decision if I continue to fight."

Pacquiao's work rate increased as the fight wore on, throwing better punches as the Cuban remained disciplined with his tactics.

Ugas' pinpoint right-hand hits troubled the Filipino throughout and he closed the fight strongly after a wild 10th round.

"It was a hard time, making an adjustment about his style and I think that was the problem for me because I didn’t make an adjustment," Pacquiao said.

"I congratulate my opponent Yordenis Ugas for making it tough tonight and winning tonight. That's boxing."

The fight was relatively even but Ugas insisted he deserved the win.

"A lot of respect for him, but I won the fight," Ugas said.

Manny Pacquiao is a man on a mission as he attempts to reclaim the WBA 'super' welterweight belt he was riled to relinquish.

The Filipino superstar tackles Cuban defector Yordenis Ugas in Las Vegas in a title bout on Saturday night, gently teasing it might be his last fight.

That seems unlikely, given the 42-year-old expressed such an obvious hunger for more success in the pre-fight news conference.

But Pacquiao might have to think seriously about his future should Ugas spring a huge surprise after being called into the main event at late notice.

Pacquiao was meant to face Errol Spence Jr, but the American withdrew from the bout with a torn retina in his left eye.

Spence's stand-in Ugas was promoted to be recognised as the WBA's champion when Pacquiao was controversially stripped of his title in January, relegated to champion-in-recess status due to inactivity.

Now raring to go, two years since he last fought, with COVID-19 pandemic factors largely the cause of his absence, Pacquiao said he "felt bad" about Spence's setback.

"But it's a good thing that Ugas wanted to challenge me in the ring, and a good thing we can settle the dispute about the WBA belt. It will be good for us to talk in the ring, settle down in the ring on Saturday," Pacquiao told a news conference.

"I feel young. I'm just happy doing this. Boxing is my passion and I'm enjoying doing the training camp and excited to undergo the sacrifices and discipline especially to prepare for a fight like this.

"The coaching staff were trying to stop me, because I wanted to do more but they told me I might get over-trained."

Speaking at Friday's weigh-in, Pacquiao added: "I don't want to be taking this fight lightly. I don't want to be over-confident for this fight, but I want to make sure that tomorrow night we get a victory. I will do my best. I will give my best for my fans and of course the honour of my country."

Ugas, who won a bronze medal for Cuba at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, majorly troubled Shawn Porter in a WBC title fight in March 2019, and he wants to show there is merit in him owning the WBA belt.

Pacquiao feels disenchanted by the WBA's decision, saying it was "not good" that he had been stripped of that title out of the ring.

"Let's see if he will get the belt on Saturday. Both of us are champions," Pacquiao said this week. "It might be my last fight or there's more, one at a time. That's my answer to the question of whether it's my last fight."

Ahead of the tussle as the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Ugas said: "This has been a long road for me. It's a short-notice fight but I'm thankful for this opportunity and I'm ready.

"I have come to prepare for 12 hard rounds. If this is the final fight that the legend Manny Pacquiao has, [I want to show] that he fought against a guy who brought his best and who is a world-class fighter."

RECENT HISTORY

Pacquiao has had a busy time of it, but not so much in the boxing ring. The coronavirus crisis has kept him occupied in his day job as a senator in the Philippines, where some expect him to make a bid to become president next year, a move that would surely end his boxing career. Pacquiao has made allegations of corruption in government, which have been denied, as he pulls no punches in his second career.

'PacMan' last fought against Keith Thurman at the MGM Grand in July 2019, where Ugas won on the undercard. Ugas has since had a seventh-round stoppage win over Mike Dallas Jr and a split-decision victory against Abel Ramos.

TALE OF THE TAPE

MANNY PACQUIAO

Age: 42
Height: 5ft 5.5ins (166cm) 
Weight: 146 lbs
Reach: 67 ins
Professional record: 62-7-2 (39 KOs) 
Major career titles: Eight-division world champion

YORDENIS UGAS

Age: 35
Height: 5ft 9ins (175cm) 
Weight: 147 lbs
Reach: 69 ins
Professional record: 26-4 (12 KOs) 
Major career titles: Holder of WBA 'super' welterweight belt

Anthony Joshua will defend his WBA, WBO and IBF heavyweight titles against former undisputed cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on September 25.

Joshua had been in negotiations to face Tyson Fury in an all-British blockbuster but an arbitration hearing ruled Deontay Wilder had a contractual right to face the WBC champion for a third time.

Fury and Wilder's trilogy showdown was set to take place this weekend before the 'Gypsy King' tested positive for coronavirus.

That bout has now been shifted to October 9 in Las Vegas, meaning Joshua will have another chance to impress before his heavyweight rivals step out again.

That is not to say looking ahead to future contests would be wise for the 31-year-old, given the exceptionally skilled Usyk is intent on cleaning up at heavyweight as he did in the 200lbs division and boasts a professional record of 18 victories and no defeats.

Joshua avenged his shock loss to Andy Ruiz with a lopsided points win over the Mexican-American in Saudi Arabia at the end of 2019. The sole defence of his second reign as champion came with a dominant ninth-round stoppage of Kubrat Pulev at Wembley Arena last December, before Joshua's latest period of Fury-based frustration began.

Usyk has previously enjoyed success in the UK, both when he knocked out Tony Bellew in his final fight at cruiserweight and outpointed the veteran Dereck Chisora last year.

The Ukrainian also won heavyweight gold at London 2012, where Joshua triumphed at super-heavyweight. Indeed, this will be the first professional meeting between men who won Olympic gold medals in those respective categories.

"We are two Olympic gold medallists who have fought our way to the top and never avoided challenges," Joshua said.

"The stadium is exceptional, the atmosphere will be electric. I'm honoured to be the first person to fight in such an awe-inspiring venue. The stage is set and I am ready to handle business."

Joshua's stadium shows have become a fixture of UK boxing in the modern era.

He stopped Wladimir Klitschko in a thrilling Wembley contest in April 2017 before a September 2018 KO of Alexander Povetkin at the same venue – a fight for which Usyk was in attendance.

In between those triumphs, he beat Carlos Takam and then-WBO champion Joseph Parker at Cardiff's Principality Stadium.

In his sole remarks around the fight announcement, Usyk cryptically said: "The path will be mastered by the walking one."

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