Some observers feel that talent won’t be enough when Oleksandr Usyk challenges WBA Super, WBO and IBF heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium next Saturday.
After cleaning out the cruiserweight division in style, Usyk’s craft and skillset is undeniable, but for some there is a nagging sense that he will be too small to trouble natural heavy Joshua. They point to two uninspiring wins over Chazz Witherspoon and Dereck Chisora as proof, but Usyk’s promoter Alexander Krassyuk insists the Ukrainian has now fully acclimatised to the weight class and is ready to wreak havoc in seven days’ time.
“He has been working hard, building his body for the heavyweight division, and he’s a true heavyweight now. No one can say he is a cruiserweight fighting as a heavyweight like Chris Byrd was. Oleksandr is a natural heavyweight now,” Krassyuk told ESPN.com.
“Boxers can just throw a punch to the chin and hope to get lucky, and they might be once out of 10, but can they do it 10 times in a row? You have to box and win each and every round to win the title. Boxing is the art of defence first and foremost, landing punches and not getting anything back. Footwork is the basis for throwing punches and defending. This is very important for any fighter and Oleksandr is very good at this.”
Krassyuk believes Ukrainian maestro Usyk (18-0, 13 KOs) can follow in the footsteps of compatriots Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko, who between them held heavyweight title belts between 2004 and 2015. Both Klitschkos are admirers of Usyk and have been offering support as he enters the defining fight of his career. Wladimir, especially, has been a constant source of advice.
“They are texting, calling and exchanging information,” said Krassyuk. “Vitali might be travelling to the fight. I had a meeting with him last week and he’s one of Usyk’s biggest fans. He has been at most of his fights.
“You can’t compare [Usyk] to the Klitschkos because that was 10 years ago. It’s more about the heritage than the fame. When you have the achievement of beating Joshua, something Wladimir couldn’t do, it will be huge.”M