Boxing: AJ gears up for defence against Usyk
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Anthony Joshua has been fired an ominous warning by Oleksandr Usyk’s trainer ahead of their eagerly-anticipated fight. The pair will square off at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium next weekend and AJ will put his heavyweight titles on the line.
The Ukranian’s team manager Sergey Lapin says the Brit is his perfect opponent and has the technique and movement to defeat Joshua.
He told MyBettingSites: “AJ is fighting at home, he is the defending champion, he is the big star and a huge personality, so he has some responsibility to defend his status. Usyk has nothing to lose at all; even if he loses, he loses to the king.
“But if you want to become the king you have to dethrone the king, and that means facing the biggest challenges. AJ is the perfect opponent because he is the biggest possible spar at this stage.”
He added: “Fighting the biggest possible star with all of his skills and all of his experience gives you an opportunity to show how good you are.
“That leads to things that every fighter is looking for: fame, success, recognition, heritage, legacy, all things that a great fighter, not just a regular champion, is normally looking for.”
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Lapin revealed Usyk’s preparation is going well and he will be going into the fight in peak condition.
He boasted: “It’s going brilliantly. Usyk spent April and May working really hard. Now when you look at him, you don’t hesitate anymore and wonder whether it’s heavyweight or cruiserweight in front of you: it’s 100% heavyweight.
“He did a really great job with his functional muscles; now he is working really hard in his training camp and just coming to the end.
“He’s had many sparring partners, a lot of experience inside the ropes. He is so tired of the work but he is so inspired that you can just recharge the batteries.”
The unified world heavyweight champion will fight mandatory challenger Usyk on September 25.
Joshua originally had a deal in place to fight fellow Brit Tyson Fury last month, but an arbitration judge ruled the Gypsy King would have to honour a trilogy bout with Deontay Wilder before facing another opponent in the ring.
This led to the WBO instructing the 31-year-old to fight Usyk, after the camps of Joshua and Fury could not come to an agreement over the exact details for their bout.
While Joshua is the bookies’ favourite for the bout, Usyk’s promoter Alex Krassyuk has claimed the Briton is removing his own advantage over the Ukranian fighter by shedding the pounds.
“We accept AJ shedding weight as good news because formerly a lot of experts gave his weight as an advantage. Now AJ is reducing his advantage,” he said.
“I’m not sure how he’s going to be on the scale and what kind of figure he will show, but he looks slimmer than in any of his previous fights. And that makes me think that AJ wants to present some boxing tactics for Usyk.
“Some people say size never matters. I’ve heard it in many movies. Size can matter sometimes, but boxing skills, boxing intelligence, experience, proper mindset, motivation, incentive; these are smaller things that together create the whole picture.
“Of course, it is an advantage that AJ has on his side, and he has to use it properly to get the victory. But there are some things that Usyk has as advantages and he will definitely be working hard to use them.”
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