Heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua has claimed that Ukrainian Oleksandr Usyk can count himself as the best pound-for-pound fighter today.
The 31-year-old Ukrainian created boxing history when he defeated Russian Murat Gassiev to become the unified and lineal cruiserweight champion in the final of the World Boxing Super Series back in July.
It was only the fourth time ever a boxer has held all four major world titles, and Usyk is eyeing a move to the heavyweight division to challenge the undefeated British champion.
Usyk must first find a way past Liverpudlian Tony Bellew, who is coming off dominating back-to-back victories over former cruiserweight and heavyweight champion David Haye.
Joshua admitted that Bellew will have his hands full as he rates the Ukrainian powerhouse as the best fighter on the planet.
”Usyk has all the belts and he’s at the highest weight, so I’d say he’s the best pound-for-pound fighter,” Joshua told JD Sports.
Joshua is back in action this Saturday when he takes on Alexander Povetkin in a blockbuster clash at Wembley Stadium.
Joshua (21-0) is putting his IBF, IBO, WBA and WBO heavyweight straps on the line against Povetkin (34-1), a fellow Olympic gold medalist who has only ever been beaten by Wladimir Klitschko.
AJ is 11 years younger than his Russian opponent and holds a four inch height and seven inch reach advantage over Povetkin.
The 39-year-old Russian, however, is a dangerous opponent for AJ with an extremely high boxing IQ and a devastating left hook, which was on show for all to see back in March when he KO’d David Price in spectacular fashion.
The four-belt world champion is supremely confident that he can overcome the Russian bruiser given his mental toughness and desire to stay at the top of the sport.
”Defend and counter, that’s the key. Start with some combinations and then pick him off. That shuts opponents down,” he said.
”I have to beat the fight out of him. I’ve got to look out for everything. Everything, left hooks, you name it.
”Ultimately it’s about how tough they are, how much do you want it?
”You can have the best attributes as a fighter, just look at me. But you’ve got to want it. I’ve got to look at his attributes, take them away and shut him down early.”
Fight fans are eager to see a more aggressive Joshua after what he described as the most brutal and physically challenging training camp of his career-to-date.
”I can finally taper down and get my strength back this week. My body has been broken down and rebuilt this camp. Within yourself, you try to find out who you really are. It is time to put on a show. This isn’t new to me anymore, this is home,” Joshua concluded.