Legendary boxing figure Teddy Atlas says the August 20 World Heavyweight Title rematch between Oleksandr Usyk, and Anthony Joshua has an X-Factor about it.
Nine months ago, Usyk walked into the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and became unified champion taking three titles having beat Joshua on points. The Ukrainian was overcome with emotion in victory afterwards and draped the country’s flag on his shoulders. This year the blue and yellow colours have become a symbol of support from the world during Russia’s invasion and countless attacks on the independent nation.
The Usyk-Joshua 2 build-up has focused on the changes that the Brit has made to his camp and the opinions on what he has to do to beat the gifted champion. On the other side of the coin there is another factor that could affect Usyk going into the 20th professional fight of his career.
Having returned to Ukraine this year to take up arms against Russia Atlas wondered what effect the war will have on Usyk going into the rematch.
Speaking on his podcast ‘The Fight With Teddy Atlas’ the former trainer and TV analyst said:
“Usyk just went through a life changing experience. Buildings, factories, people’s lives, he’s seen that destroyed with artillery. Not the artillery of a left or a right hand, artillery of bombs, of machine guns, of missiles from the Russian army.”
“That impacts you. I don’t care what kind of fighter you are that impacts you.”
“All of a sudden wow boxing’s not as quite as important as it once used to be. When that perspective strikes home, and it doesn’t always but in this case because of the war, when you live through that as Usyk has and you’re touched by that which Usyk has been your perspective changes.”
“And as healthy as that perspective is and true it is, it’s not healthy for a fighter. It’s not healthy for a guy that has to go in that ring and that has to be the priority.”
Atlas went on to give his prediction for the rematch:
“That’s what makes this the X-Factor. It’s either going to be that or it’s going to be he attaches himself to fighting for Ukraine, fighting for that flag, fighting for the pride of my country. I’m fighting for the people to give them some hope. So, it’s going to be one or the other.”
“That’s what makes this fight intriguing to me because otherwise it’s a potentially a one-sided fight, except for the power of that [Joshua] right hand that could change things.”
“That’s how I break the fight down, that’s what makes it interesting, that’s what makes it semi-important.”
“I will go with Usyk again.”