At the final press conference before the rematch with Anthony Joshua, Oleksandr Usyk’s manager reveals training methods that read like a list of world record attempts.
As if the Ukrainian Heavyweight Champion wasn’t already an intriguing enough character, it seems that he has been pushing his body to its limits in preparation for the first defence of his belts.
Egis Klimas, Usyk’s manager, spoke to the media ahead of the fight this Saturday in Jeddah.
“I am so proud to represent him.”
“I can tell you, I’ve never seen anybody [in] 45 degrees heat ride a bicycle for 100 kilometres. I’ve never seen anybody swimming the day before the press conference in London for 10 kilometres, in the pool for five hours.
“I’ve never seen anybody holding his breath under water for four minutes and forty seconds – almost passing away, shaking himself.”
“I ask him ‘what’s wrong with you?’ He said ‘I know I have a trainer behind me, he’s not going to let me drown.’”
Questions about the Ukrainian fighter’s mindset in the lead up to this event were well-justified. His country has been invaded by Russia, and stories from the front line paint a bleak picture of what life was like for the champion and his people.
It appears that all of this has triggered determination rather than dejection. The man who will enter the ring this weekend is fighting for more than titles and glory. If people around him are to be believed, we may be about to witness the most dangerous and relentless version of Oleksandr Usyk.
Add to the above claims from Joshua’s camp that “sparring partners have been hitting the canvas”, Saturday’s fight – broadcast live on Sky Sports Box Office – looks set to be a gruelling war between two competitors to whom victory means absolutely everything.