Joshua, who lost his WBO, WBA and IBF titles in a one-sided unanimous decision defeat to the Ukrainian wizard last year, put in a much-improved display but once again fell short on the night, this time via split-decision.
Typically calm, controlled and humble – as is his mantra – Joshua displayed a different side of himself in the immediate aftermath, throwing his former belts out of the ring, before forcing his way to the microphone and voicing a rather erratic monologue after initially storming out of the squared circle.
Eddie Hearn (left) has revealed his first conversations with Anthony Joshua after his loss to Oleksandr Usyk (right)
Joshua, 32, was handed a second bitterly disappointing defeat to the Ukrainian mastermind
Joshua soon found his resolve and eventually gave the Ukrainian the credit he deserved. But, after exploding once again backstage after a bystander told him to ‘keep it professional’, Hearn reveals members of his team then also received the cold shoulder.
‘He didn’t want a conversation, it was that sort of vibe,’ Hearn told Sportsmail of his first interaction with Joshua. ‘We went back into the changing room and he was extremely frustrated.
‘I actually went over to talk to him and to everyone he was like, “Leave me alone”. I said, “No, I won’t leave you alone. I’ve got to tell you, you boxed well”.
‘He said, “No I f****** didn’t box well, I lost”. I said, “No, you boxed well. In the first fight, you didn’t box well, and I’ve told you that. But after nine rounds, I was convinced you were going to win this fight”.
‘Usyk was amazing in the 10th, 11th and 12th rounds, and the better man won, but Joshua took him all the way.’
Hearn insists Joshua boxed brilliantly but admits Usyk pulled away late on and deserved to win
Joshua disagrees, insisting his performance wasn’t good enough as he fell to a third career loss
The former champion launched into an erratic and uncharacteristic monologue after the fight
A calmer Joshua was on show when the former champion re-emerged for the customary post-fight press conference, though showing his emotion as he shed a tear after being asked if he was proud of himself.
But if Hearn had his way – which he’s now glad he didn’t – Joshua wouldn’t have faced the media at all, such was the 32-year-old’s distress.
‘It took two hours before we went into the press conference,’ Hearn recalled. ‘One of the hard things for fighters is having to go and do the press conferences and speak after having a fight.
‘Imagine having a fight on the street with all the emotions and the adrenaline that brings, and then all of a sudden you’ve got to go and talk to someone coherently and give your opinions, while the whole world are ready to give their opinions on what you’re saying.
‘I didn’t want him to do a press conference, and I didn’t want him to do one after the Andy Ruiz loss because he was concussed, but he’s always insistent on doing it.
‘So that two hours was good for him to mellow down and clear his mind a little bit. It was complete frustration from doing all the right things, trying as hard as he could and still not being good enough to win. That was hard for him to accept.
The first loss was just, “I boxed s***, I got it wrong, I messed up”. This one was more like, “I worked on the right things, we had the plan right, I didn’t stop trying and I still couldn’t win”.
‘For him, the idea of not being good enough when you get it right was difficult for a winner to accept.’
Joshua cried during his post-fight press conference as the Brit was overcome by emotion
Hearn believes letting off his pent-up emotion was a good thing having bottled it up for years
Joshua was, as was to be expected, criticised for his post-fight outburst, but so too were members of his team, who many believed should have restrained – or at least attempted to restrain – the Briton during his in-ring rant.
Hearn insists there was nothing he or any of the AJ camp could do by that point, however, believing a release of all the pressure Joshua has carried since first becoming a world champion in 2016 actually did him good.
‘I still find it hilarious when I hear people saying his team should have jumped in during his interview,’ he said. ‘At that point, you’ve got to let him do his thing. If you jump in, he’ll probably end up chinning you, and the whole thing will end up even more embarrassing. At that point you have to let him say his piece.
‘The press conference was really good for him, because you saw a slightly calmed down guy just showing a lot of emotion. He’s fine now. And I think actually getting that emotion out was a good thing, because I feel like it’s been bubbling inside him.’
What next was the immediate question, and it’s one Hearn has the answer for. The Matchroom boss plans to get Joshua out once more in December, confirming to Sportsmail both the fight will be in the United Kingdom and that it will be against a top 15 opponent.
Hearn has confirmed a rematch against long-term rival Dillian Whyte could happen next year
Hearn also confirmed that Joshua will have two tune-up fights, the latter potentially being a mouthwatering rematch against Dillian Whyte in a UK stadium next year, before once again challenging for the belts.
With no mandatories to overcome or sanctioning fees to pay, Hearn also wants to get AJ travelling, possibly fighting in Beijing, Australia, America and the Middle East within the next year.
He said: ‘Now Joshua is in control of his own future. We can fight who we want, when we want, where we want. Let’s go on an AJ world tour.’