In a new series, published during weekdays on Boxing Social, the incomparable Terry Dooley delivers his unique look at the boxing news.
It is fight week for WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO world heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua (24-1, 22 KOs) and former cruiserweight world Champion Oleksandr Usyk (18-0, 13 KOs), and both men believe that they have the mental edge going in. They meet at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium live on Sky Sports Box Office on Saturday night and Joshua believes that he improved during the pandemic as it allowed him to work on different sides of his game.
“During the pandemic, the basic necessities were perfect for me,” he said (C/O Tom Hopkinson of the Daily Mirror). “I learned that I like basic things, I don’t need a lot to make me happy. I also learned about the power of the brain.
“Our brain is basically like plastic, forever changing, brain cells dying and new brain cells developing. So you can actually train yourself and tell yourself who you are and who you’d like to be. I’ve learned the power of deep practice. I am training on the edge to put in a defining performance on Saturday and beyond.”
“It’s all boxing-related because that’s what I dedicate myself to,” he added. “But it’s not just about training to get fit, it’s about training to get better and finding out who you are. I have looked at the attributes, the feet positioning, the hand positioning, the feints, the controls. The defining performances, not the defining fights — you have to understand the difference. The positive affirmations, deep practice, practicing on the edge, being vulnerable. All of these kind of things make a good fighter, it’s not just about being the big man…If you follow your As, Bs and Cs that leads to your KOs.”
Despite Joshua’s size advantage, Usyk has stated that the only thing troubling him this week is the fact it is his six-year-old son’s first month in a new school and he has had to jet over to the UK for fight week, leaving his family behind to cope without him.
“At the moment I don’t think about Anthony Joshua,” he told The Sun’s Wally Downes. “I don’t think about what he will do, what he will use or how he will box…Right now I think more about how my son feels at school, because he has just started first grade and he really did not want to go and do it.
“He was saying, ‘I don’t want to go to school, dad. I’m bored at school and you’re not there’. But everything is fine now, he seems to have calmed down. So I probably think more about that than what Joshua will do in the ring.”
“My first job was helping my mother on a big cow farm,” he continued. “She had about 50 cows under her command and they all had to be milked and fed and put in their place when the shed needed to be cleaned out. I was there every day after school. I work hard now so that my children can just go to school and get knowledge and not have to worry about helping me at work.”
Although he does not take part in his trilogy fight against Deontay Wilder (42-1-1, 41 KOs) until October 9, Tyson Fury (30-0-1, 21 KOs) will loom large over fight week as a win for Joshua and then Fury could bring us closer to a fight between the two. A loss for either or both would be a huge blow for the prospect of it ever happening.
Fury, though, was on Gary Neville’s The Overlap podcast recently and he argued that not only is he unbeatable, but that Joshua and Wilder just see boxing as a business or a way of getting their faces on TV.
“I don’t think I’ll ever lose a fight, I don’t think there’s anyone out there to beat me,” he said. “They’re all businessmen, Deontay Wilder, Anthony Joshua, whoever is in this era that I’m in — they’re all about business.
“They’re all about making money, doing other business ventures, being a celebrity on TV, and I’m just the same old guy sitting here in Morecambe drinking my coffee. I don’t really care about all that stuff. I suppose I come from a business background, I started earning money when I was 12 years old. For them it’s new, for me it’s something I’ve done all my life.
“I think that takes the hunger away because I don’t really care. I’ve seen it lately, a lot of fighters are doing it for the money and all they see is pay cheques. For me, if I wasn’t 100 per cent focused on what I’m going to do, then I wouldn’t want to do it, it doesn’t matter what amount of money you throw at me.
“All you people out there, listen to that, I’ve got billionaire mates and they’re unhappy. If they found £100k on the ground they wouldn’t be happy, they’d be looking for the next one because enough is never enough, they’re always chasing more. It doesn’t matter what they achieve, they always want to go again. For me, I’m happy. I’d be happy if I lived in a council house or a tower flat. I don’t need a flashy car or house for someone to like me. If they don’t like me, then fuck them.”
One fight that does seem to be lumbering our way is a meeting between Tyson’s brother,Tommy Fury (7-0, 4 early), and Jake Paul (4-0, 3 stoppages), with Paul’s brother Logan claiming that Jake would do a number on Fury. “Look at the dude Tommy Fury beat [Anthony Taylor], I’d been drinking 45 days straight after the Floyd Mayweather fight,” he said when speaking to the True Geordie podcast. “I come back, I sparred the kid Tommy fought, he didn’t make it out of the first round. Fury’s going to get fucking murdered.”