Anthony Joshua expressed his desire be a “throwback fighter and take on all comers” as the heavyweight world champion came face to face with red-suited challenger Oleksandr Usyk yesterday at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
The WBA (Super), WBO and IBF champion defends his titles tomorrow at the north London football stadium against former cruiserweight king Usyk intimating that he “would fight King Kong” if he was asked to, as the prizefighters indulged in a good-natured news conference, followed by an intense staredown which ended in a sportsman’s handshake. “I’m not an easy fight for anyone, I like fighting,” explained Joshua.”If you tell me I was fighting King Kong I would give it a go. This is my job. I wasn’t on the amateur scene long enough to know much
about Oleksandr, but when I turned professional I did a lot of research and I love the Ukrainian style and the Ukrainian people. He was fighting 10 or 12 years as an amateur before he went to the
Olympics and worlds, so he is probably happy to be in this position. The cream always rises to the top.
“I love throwback fighters. I’m not a historian, but I do watch a lot of boxing and I don’t fight good people just to get respect. I’m going to work. These are the best days of my life. I’ve been looking at legacy and where boxing was years ago – in the fifties and so on – and the difference is a lot of those guys actually fought each other. That’s what made them great.”
“In this day and age it’s who speaks the most and who generates the most interest through speaking. It’s a different era of boxing. Speaking is just as important as boxing these days. I just fight these guys no problem. They get a lot out of it as well. They come into our world – everything we’ve tried to build, they benefit massively from it. I always say to Eddie Hearn it’s annoying because all these opponents come for a week or two, speak a good game, generate big social media following, generate prizefighting money, and then disappear and you don’t hear from them again. But what can I do about it except continue fighting? That’s all I can do, play my part in this business.”
Ukrainian Usyk, 34, dressed in a red three-piece suit, yellow waistcoat and tie – dressed like ‘The Joker’ and clearly in London to upset the party against betting favourite Joshua in front of a sellout
60,000 crowd – gave little away as both fighters appeared calm and relaxed. “Every fight makes history and I think me and Anthony will make another step in history, something that people will be talking about, remember and will be watching on television,” said Usyk through an interpreter. “We will see Anthony for the rematch – he is king of the division,” added Usyk’s promoter Alexander Krassyuk, a nod to there confidence they have in their man. Robert McCracken, Joshua’s long-term trainer, believes every opponent at this level represents a significant challenge to his charge’s
incumbency as world champion. “Usyk is smaller, he’s quicker, he’s a southpaw. If you leave something out there, he’s going to counter punch you. You’ve got to control the space around him all the time, and that is what AJ has worked. The thing about big Josh is that he has good feet, he’s mobile enough with that reach and he sets things up right. All these fights at heavyweight are difficult. It’s a great fight for him, a great challenge skills-wise. AJ is formidable. He’s very powerful, he can box. He has a good jab, good range, and he’s really good heavy puncher on the inside. You don’t beat all these guys unless you are very good. It’s not in his mindset to avoid anyone. It’s never about swerving anyone. Every fight is a new challenge and going into the unknown, but he is equipped to box well and come out with the win against Usyk on Saturday night, and hopefully he will learn along the way. Outside Tyson Fury, you’d have to say Usyk is the
most lively contender who will give anyone a tough night.”
Victory on Saturday night will propel Joshua forward in talks for an undisputed heavyweight title fight with WBC king Tyson Fury should the ‘Gypsy King’ defeat American Deontay Wilder in Las Vegas on October 9. Joshua yesterday backed Wilder to knock Fury out in their trilogy fight. Joshua, who wants to meet the winner in an undisputed heavyweight fight bout, said: “I’m not too bothered. But let’s go with Wilder because he seems obsessed, like he really wants it. A focused man is a dangerous man, and he’s focused.”
Joshua vs Usyk is live on Sky Box Office on Saturday night.
This Article First Appeared On The Telegraph