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Anthony Joshua can earn new respect with rematch win over Oleksandr Usyk, says Johnny Nelson

Johnny Nelson says Anthony Joshua must bring back the 'old AJ' as he looks to reclaim his world heavyweight titles against Oleksandr Usyk on August 20; watch the Usyk vs Joshua rematch live on Sky Sports Box Office

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Sky Sports' Johnny Nelson says Anthony Joshua faces a 'tough ask' to win his rematch with Oleksandr Usyk, live on Sky Sports Box Office.

Anthony Joshua will earn fresh recognition and respect as an elite world heavyweight champion if he pulls off a sensational revenge win over Oleksandr Usyk, says Sky Sports expert Johnny Nelson.

The two-time world champion heads to Saudi Arabia in view of reclaiming the IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight titles that he lost to Usyk in September's points loss at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Joshua recently suggested he does not feel he received the respect he deserved during his time as world champion, Nelson pointing towards his rematch with Usyk as a route to quashing all doubts over his credentials.

"Anthony Joshua had that crossover appeal when you've got people interested in boxing that wouldn't bat an eyelid at it," said Nelson.

"You're looking at his style and what he's done and there's always people that say 'well this opponent wasn't that', he wasn't given the credit he deserved. This fight will be that fight.

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Anthony Joshua and Oleksandr Usyk refused to look away from each other during an intense face-off between the pair ahead of the world heavyweight title rematch

"Remember, he's done it twice now. If Anthony Joshua goes in there and beats him, the next person will be like 'yeah, but you've not beaten Tyson Fury or not beaten Deontay Wilder'.

"He's always going to have these things, but to me this proves you've got to respect him.

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"Because he's gone in there with one of the best fighters in the world and he's going to go in there and beat him, if he does that where do the questions come from then?"

Joshua made notable adjustments to his tactics between his shock defeat to Andy Ruiz in New York in 2019 and the subsequent rematch in which he came out on top via unanimous decision.

His approach is expected to change again come August 20 after efforts to out-box Usyk were foiled last time out, with Robert Garcia having been brought in to seemingly re-introduce the power that fuelled Joshua's rise to stardom.

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Anthony Joshua says he is hungry for the talking to end so he can get in the ring and 'do his job' against Oleksandr Usyk

"This is not an impossible ask but it's a tough ask," said Nelson. "When he lost to Ruiz everybody said 'he's done, he's written off', he went back and said 'I've got to change my tactics'.

"This is what he's got to do in this fight, he's got to change his tactics. He tried to beat Usyk at his own game and in doing so he walked straight into Usyk's plan, that's exactly what he wanted to do instead of using his natural ability.

"He was getting picked off by Usyk's southpaw style, dummying with the jab, he was just befuddling him, so he wasn't sure whether to let a shot go and it was making him second guess himself, making his footwork look off balance because he was not sure of the shot he was going to throw because he was walking into the Lion's Den in regards to fighting Usyk's kind of fight.

"To change this, what Anthony Joshua has to do is fight his fight. He out-smarted himself instead of doing what's worked for him in the past and what's got him to this stage in his career."

Oleksandr Usyk, Anthony Joshua
Image: The Oleksandr Usyk vs Anthony Joshua rematch is on August 20, live on Sky Sports Box Office

Nelson has challenged Joshua to revert to the aggression that guided him to victory over Dillian Whyte in 2015 and believes there is more riding on the fight for the Londoner's career than that of Usyk.

"If you look after the fight and you look at the state of Usyk, especially seeing how he beat him, almost stopping him, Usyk's face was in a state and that's when Anthony Joshua boxed bad," Nelson continued.

"He knows he boxed bad, he knows he chose the wrong tactics, he knows he went in there with the wrong mentality. Now he's been given that chance to do it again, he needs this win more than Oleksandr Usyk does because to prove to the world to say 'I'm not a flash in a pan, I'm actually the real deal'.

"This is that fight, this is that chance to become a three-time heavyweight champion of the world and so he's changed his team behind him, he's made some bold decisions, he's gone out there to Saudi to set up camp now to be comfortable in the surroundings.

"He's done everything asked of him. Now it's about mindset, mentality, how he's going to go about this fight.

"He's got to throw the kitchen sink at him. The old AJ that got in there and boxed Dillian Whyte with that rugged rough edge about him, that's the mentality he wants to bring, he needs to bring the intelligence with it, but that's the mentality he wants to bring.

"Use his natural size, his natural weight, his natural punch power, he's knocked out 22 of his opponents. You know he's got the strength, you know he's got the power."

The biggest fight in the history of women's boxing - Claressa Shields vs Savannah Marshall - is live on Sky Sports on Saturday, September 10. Be part of history and buy tickets for the London showdown here.


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