Anthony Joshua is the best heavyweight athlete of the past 20 years, says Tony Bellew

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Tony Bellew believes Anthony Joshua is the best heavyweight athlete of the past 20 years, as AJ prepares for his title defence against Oleksandr Usyk.

Speaking to talkSPORT, he praised Joshua’s continued development and predicted a victory for the British fighter against Usyk when they eventually meet later on in the year.

He said: “AJ is the best athletic heavyweight I’ve seen in the last two decades. As an athlete, he’s unbelievable. He’s an unbelievable specimen, he really is. The power he can move at, the speed he can move at, the dexterity.

“He’s on another level to everybody else. He’s just got to keep improving on that boxing IQ, which he is. He showed that against Andy Ruiz Jr in the rematch.

“I know exactly how good Usyk is - he’s an amazing talent, and the best fighter I ever fought. But I don’t believe he’s dangerous enough to cause AJ problems.

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“He’s big enough to cause him problems, but I don’t think he’d last long enough to defeat him. He will cause problems while he’s standing and AJ is going to have to get rid of him. He’ll put the pressure on, and make him pay for every single thing he earns in there.

"He’ll have to show different things that he hasn’t done in his career so far, but then again, he’s always improving, always getting better and it’s just fantastic to see.”

While no date is confirmed for the Usyk fight, Matchroom promoter Eddie Hearn has suggested it will take place on either September 18 or 25 in London.

Usyk is now the mandatory contender for Joshua’s title after stepping up to heavyweight following his unification of the cruiserweight division – and ending Bellew’s career in the process.

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Read more: Anthony Joshua vs Oleksandr Usyk: Date, Odds, Tickets, Stats, Live Stream, Card And Everything You Need To Know

The unbeaten Ukrainian has won both of his fights since moving to heavyweight against Derek Chisora and Chazz Witherspoon, but fighting AJ is a serious step up for the 34-year-old.

Joshua’s main goal is a box office clash with long-time rival Tyson Fury. The pair were due to fight in Saudi Arabia in August, but the fight was cancelled with Fury having to defend his WBO title against Deontay Wilder.

Fury and Wilder will meet for a third time next month in Las Vegas, and both The Gypsy King and AJ will need to win their respective bouts to get the money-spinning unification fight back on track.

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