Anthony Joshua already in Saudi Arabia and warms up for Usyk with spot of tennis

Anthony Joshua has been snapped partaking in a spot of tennis ahead of his crunch boxing clash against Oleksandr Usyk as preparations heat up in Saudi Arabia.

Joshua, 32, suffered the second defeat of an impressive career against Usyk last September as the Cat ran riot at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, claiming a thoroughly deserved victory via unanimous decision.

Immediately sanctioning his rematch clause, Joshua's chance for vengeance was put on hold due to Russia's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine as Usyk bravely chose to help repel Vladimir Putin's forces on the frontline, but the pair have now settled on an August 20 date.

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It may still be a month till the pair rekindle their rivalry inside the ring, but Joshua is taking no shortcuts. Jetting off to Jeddah on Sunday (July 17), the two-time heavyweight champion is undergoing a gruelling training camp in the blistering Middle East heat with preparations even starting on the flight.

The six-hour journey on a private jet was the perfect chance to work on his mental side of the sport with games of mind-testing chess placed on the agenda by new coach Robert Garcia, who has trained 14 world champions since retirement in 2001.

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Ditching trainer Rob McCracken for the first time in his professional career, Joshua is now utilising other sports with a view to improving his hand-eye coordination. The Watford warrior was spotted honing his tennis skills at a local Jeddah sports facility, whilst also working on his footwork with the skipping rope.

Sky Sports pundit Jonny Nelson believes Joshua has shown "serious intentions" by arriving early in the Middle East. He said: "He [Joshua] wants to acclimatise, get used to the heat, get used to his environment, make it second nature, a second home for himself out there, which is a good sign."

He added: "I remember when Ali did it when he was fighting George Foreman in the jungle, he was there for longer than he expected to be. I think, this one here, AJ has gone out there thinking he's got to do it right. I'm sure he's taken his team out, his sparring partners out there.

"It's the best thing to do, just to get used to the heat. He's got to do everything in his favour, and I like the thinking behind it. We can read into so many things, but it shows serious intentions, he's out there on business, which is a must."


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