Highlighted by the Daniel Dubois fight, boxers and fans are questioning whether unified heavyweight champion, Oleksandr Usyk, has a weakness to the body – and a sparring partner has now poured fuel on those flames.
Dubois knocked Usyk to the canvas in the fifth round with a punch around the belt line, which the referee immediately deemed a low blow, a decision which has split opinion within the boxing world but hasn’t stopped speculation that the Ukrainian doesn’t like it around the midriff.
Heavyweight Martin Bakole, who has been described by his promoter as the most the ‘most avoided’ fighter in the division, told SecondsOut that he stopped Usyk in sparring to the body and said news of the stoppage even leaked to Anthony Joshua before their rematch.
“I said it in the Sky Sports studio which is a big platform and Usyk never came back to say I’m lying. If you watch the Usyk-Johsua weigh in and Joshua ask him ‘how was the body shot’, watch that video closely. Because there was Okolie and American boys that were in the gym when i was sparring Usyk and after that knockout they called Joshua maybe to tell him that I stopped him in the sparring. But he made the mistake of telling him at the weigh in – that was the body shot I stopped him.
First or second round I think and he stopped, he took about one, two minutes and they start again, but from that day his coach told me not to spar, they just used dome other guys, for him to recover.
I wasn’t surprised, I’m too strong for Usyk, I know how to box a southpaw.”
This isn’t the first time Bakole has shared sparring secrects, having claimed to also have stopped Daniel Dubois and Joe Joyce in training camps.