Joshua vs Usyk: Anthony Joshua addresses Saudi death penalty controversy - saying Kingdom 'changing'

ITV News London reporter Antoine Allen interviews Anthony Joshua.

Anthony Joshua addressed the controversy over the death penalty in Saudi Arabia and accusations of human rights violations.

Joshua told ITV News London the Kingdom was changing by increasing women's involvement in sport and the number of gyms available for training.

"What they want to do in boxing is change - women's championship they've added to their regime, 40 gyms have opened in the region and boxing has grown - I think they're doing a good job," Joshua said.

Executions are routinely carried out in Saudi Arabia and there have been 170 since Joshua was last in Saudi Arabia at the end of 2019.

The boxer said he didn't know the reason for the executions, but described the situation as "crazy".

Joshua spoke ahead of his rematch with Oleksandr Usyk and said he was hungry to become world heavyweight champion again.

Anthony Joshua (left) and trainer Robert Garcia

He was outclassed last September by his Ukrainian rival, who defied disadvantages in height, reach and weight to claim the WBA, IBF and WBO titles after a clear unanimous decision victory. Many observers believe Joshua’s best route to victory in the return bout in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on August 20 is inside the distance, using his physical superiority to disrupt Usyk.

'It should lead me to KO'

Having linked up with new trainer Robert Garcia, Joshua hinted that is the gameplan but the former two-time world heavyweight champion didn't elaborate much further.

"What happened then is in the past, I don’t really live in the past, I’m just present," he said.

"I’ll be looking to be competing round-by-round and if I follow my As, Bs and Cs, it should lead me to KO.

Oleksandr Usyk during a press conference at the Four Seasons Hotel

"Someone said to me ‘you’ve got a chance to become three-time heavyweight champion of the world’. I said ‘it’s not where you want to be, I wouldn’t advise anyone young to go down that route’.

"You want to stay there and keep it, so I’m definitely desperate to get my hands on it. (But there’s) too much talking. Less talk, more action. I’m not a comedian, I’m not someone who likes big speeches. "Let me get in there and do my job, that’s my priority. I’m definitely hungry, definitely desperate but how I perform will speak volumes to the masses."

Speaking to ITV News, Joshua said it was important for him to win back the title of world heavyweight champion because it was "part of the legacy".

"I know it sounds stupid to some but it's part of my own personal achievements that I want to achieve," he added.

While Joshua revealed he was troubled by Usyk’s southpaw stance nine months ago, he insisted there is not much to draw on despite sharing 12 rounds with the former undisputed world cruiserweight champion.

Usyk has won all 19 of his professional contests and wore a blue and yellow T-shirt with the message ‘Colours of Freedom’ in homage to his native Ukraine in the midst of Russia’s invasion of the country. He helped with the war effort against Russia, initially putting in jeopardy a second fight against Joshua, before being given special permission to defend his world titles against the Briton. While this will be Joshua’s second fight in Saudi Arabia – he avenged his only other defeat against Andy Ruiz Jr in 2019 in Diriyah with a points win – it will be Usyk’s first in the country.

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