As he prepares to take his place in Oleksandr Usyk’s corner for his showdown with Dereck Chisora, Russ Anber gives Boxing Social the inside story of his association with the Ukrainian superstar…

After a couple of weeks in Las Vegas I’m in England now and can’t wait for Saturday night when my man Oleksandr Usyk squares off against Derek Chisora.

My plane landed at Heathrow at about 8:15 in the morning on Saturday after 20 hours of travel from Vegas and I was in my hotel at Wembley by about 9:45. I was tested for Covid-19 not long after and have been in my room ever since. It’s kind of a drag, but that’s the world we’re in right now. I’m going a little stir crazy and I’m only 24 hours or so into the week but I’ve got enough tea to get me through, so that’s okay!

Thankfully, my test came back negative so I’ll investigate what’s going on on the third floor of the hotel soon, as that’s part of the bubble, too.

Usyk arrived yesterday afternoon after completing his training in Ukraine. I saw him today which was good and I can’t wait to see him in the ring against Chisora now.

My association with Usyk goes back to December 2016. Ahead of his fight with Thabiso Mchunu in California; his manager Egis Kimas asked me if I’d like to come on board and wrap Usyk’s hands as well as be in his corner as a second and cut-man.

By this point, I’d been part of Vasiliy Lomachenko’s team for four fights and everything had gone well so I think that’s why Egis called on me again. It certainly seemed like a natural continuation from working with Vasiliy. Egis must have liked whatever he saw me do so he asked if I’d do the same for Usyk. I agreed, of course. 

So then I made Usyk some gloves, worked his corner against Mchunu and I’ve been part of the team ever since – the Chisora fight will be my eighth contest in his corner.

Above all else, Usyk is a really good guy. I’d do anything for him and it’s great working for him. He’s one of the very best guys to be in a training camp with because he’s so receptive to ideas. One of the greatest things about Usyk is his versatility. In many of his fights he enters with a different look or approach. It’s hard to get a gauge on what he’s going to do. He learns different things and fights in different ways.

Working with Usyk in the corner is great but working with him in the gym is even better because he’s a guy who likes to try things. He likes to be creative and improvise. It’s rare to have a boxer like that, who tries new things, who is continuously on the edge of learning.

Fighters like that are the ones who continue to have success, because they can rebuild themselves and make themselves better, remodel themselves and add things to their repertoire. That contributes to a fighter’s greatness.

If every fighter had Usyk’s work ethic, sense of humour and love of his sport then the world would be a much better place! 

The best compliment I can pay Usyk – and I say this with all sincerity – is that he’s the sort of guy you’d love your daughter to bring home. He’s a man of conviction, a man of sound character whose sense of humour is outstanding. He’s a great fighter and a great guy, too.

Due to the language barrier people, don’t get a full sense of what a great guy Usyk is and just how charismatic and funny he is. He’s a great fighter and a great guy, too.

The fact that Usyk is prepared to put his WBO No.1 ranking at risk by fighting Chisora – a hard-hitting and experienced heavyweight who always comes to fight – tells you a lot about his ambition and his heart. I’m honoured to be a part of his team.

Russ Anber was talking to Luke G. Williams.

Russ is the founder/ CEO of Rival Boxing, as well as a highly respected trainer (of both pros and amateurs), a gym owner, a cut-man, an entrepreneur, a broadcaster and one of the best hand wrappers in the boxing business. Vasiliy Lomachenko, Oleksandr Usyk, Artur Beterbiev and Callum Smith are among the many top boxers Russ currently works with.