Mind games ahead of Anthony Joshua’s heavyweight clash with Oleksandr Usyk have begun, with the Ukrainian fighter’s promoter claiming the Briton is sabotaging his own preparations for the bout. Alexander Krassyuk said his client would be the one to benefit from Joshua’s decision to shed weight and streamline his figure.
The unified world heavyweight champion will fight mandatory challenger Usyk at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on September 25.
Joshua originally had a deal in place to fight fellow Briton Tyson Fury last month, but an arbitration judge ruled the Gypsy King would have to honour a trilogy fight 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 about their fight.
While Joshua is the bookies’ favourite for the bout, Usyk’s promoter Krassyuk has claimed the Briton is removing his own advantage over the Ukranian fighter by shedding the pounds.
He told MyBettingSites: “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.
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“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.”
Usyk’s team manager Sergey Lapin said his fighter is in “optimal physical and mental condition to face Anthony Joshua”.
“Alexander has worked incredibly hard in training and will prove against Joshua that he is the best around,” he said.
“In our world, everyone always needs to prove themselves, which is what Usyk does time and again when everybody doubts him.
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“And we, his team and loved ones, believe in his victory for two reasons – one, because he has one of the best techniques in boxing and two, because he uses his legs to the maximum which makes him so tough to face.
“But of course, AJ is a great boxer, he has passed a difficult path in his career. So we wish him good preparation and are waiting for him in the ring.”
Meanwhile, retired British boxer Tony Bellew has talked up Joshua’s opponent and believes the Ukrainian can cause problems for the heavyweight champion.
Bellew claimed Usyk is “the best boxer [Joshua] is ever going to face in a boxing ring”.
“For what he’s capable of doing, how good he is, how technically good he is, the arsenal of punches that he’s got. He’s outstanding as a boxer,” the Briton added.
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