Anthony Joshua and Oleksandr Usyk both won Olympic gold medals and Tony Bellew explained AJ is in for tough night as undisputed cruiserweight champion-turned heavyweight ‘mentally exhausts’ you

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Anthony Joshua and Oleksandr Usyk both won Olympic gold medals and Tony Bellew explained AJ is in for tough night as undisputed cruiserweight champion-turned heavyweight ‘mentally exhausts’ you


Oleksandr Usyk could be the man to scupper the Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury super fight the boxing world wanted to see.

The Ukrainian takes on AJ at Tottenham’s White Hart Lane stadium in September with the WBO, WBA (super), IBF and IBO heavyweight titles on the line. Should he win, he catapults himself into one of the most lucrative and legacy defining positions in boxing history.

Joshua will defend his titles against Usyk in two months’ time

Many fight fans are looking at Usyk and Deontay Wilder as obstacles to the AJ vs Tyson Fury all-British undisputed title fight they all want.

But there’s magic in the Usyk vs Joshua. It’s Olympic gold vs Olympic gold. It’s unified heavyweight champion against an undisputed cruiserweight king, who has stepped up in weight class.

Usyk, though, is not a mere obstacle. When Joshua was winning a super-heavyweight gold medal at the 2012 Olympic Games in London and earning a hometown heroes reception, Usyk was quietly winning gold at the very same event in the heavyweight class. Naturally, it made far fewer headlines.

Usyk won gold at London 2012, displaying his amateur pedigree prior to turning pro

Usyk won gold at London 2012, displaying his amateur pedigree prior to turning pro

Usyk outpointed Artur Beterbiev – who is now a unified light-heavyweight champion – Tervel Pulev – younger brother of Kubrat – and finally Italy’s Clemente Russo, whom he outscored 6–3 in the final.

Usyk then turned pro and he retired from amateur boxing with an astounding record of 335−15.

The 34-year-old is now 18-0 in his professional career and, having taken the cruiserweight by storm, is planning on cleaning out the land of the giants.

He was a world champion in just his tenth fight and arguably the biggest scalp on his record was when he retired British fan favourite, Tony Bellew.

Usyk dominated the cruiserweight division and wants to repeat the success at heavyweight

Getty Images – Getty

Usyk dominated the cruiserweight division and wants to repeat the success at heavyweight

And Bellew, who lost his cruiserweight title to Usyk, told talkSPORT that Joshua is in for a very, very difficult evening, especially given he will be trained by Vasyl Lomachenko’s dad, Anatoly.

“It’s a hard fight, I’m not gonna lie. It’s a very, very hard fight.

“If anything, it’s just got even harder because Usyk has now gone back with Lomachenko’s father.

“That makes it even harder because they will create a game plan that is gonna try and negate everything good that Anthony Joshua does.

“They’re gonna try and take everything away from him.

Usyk was Bellew’s final fight of his career, stepping away from the ring in 2018

Getty

Usyk was Bellew’s final fight of his career, stepping away from the ring in 2018

“That’s what Usyk does so well. He takes away your strengths before he looks at implementing his own strengths.

“And by taking away your strengths, you’re lost. The things he does with his feet – he’s exceptional.

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“So I think it’s a really hard fight, I think it’s really dangerous.”

Speaking from experience, Bellew says Usyk has the mental and technical proficiency to break down the best.

Usyk is confident he can become undisputed at heavyweight too

Ed Mulholland/Matchroom

Usyk is confident he can become undisputed at heavyweight too

​​”He mentally exhausted me in our fight by constantly having his front foot close to mine. That doesn’t sound much. But it’s mental pressure that he puts on you, not physical.

“He wouldn’t get involved in any wrestling matches with me. Every time we got close, I would dig him to the body.

“He’s vicious and brilliant,” he added.

Usyk has had two fights at heavyweight and was successful in both outings, most recently against another difficult Brit in Dereck Chisora. The pedigree of the man cannot be questioned, this fight is no placeholder.





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