Anthony Joshua has been warned he faces the most formidable challenge of his boxing career yet on September 25 after agreeing to fight former unified cruiserweight champion, Oleksandr Usyk, at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London this autumn.
Former world cruiserweight champion Tony Bellew has described the 6ft 3 in Ukrainian as “technically perfect” and a “dangerous threat.”
The WBO ordered Joshua to defend his heavyweight title against mandatory challenger Usyk after the collapse of his super-fight with fellow Briton Tyson Fury.
Joshua, who also holds the WBA, IBF and IBO belts, and Usyk are set to come face to face for the first time at a press conference in London next month ahead of their clash at White Hart Lane.
Bellew, who reigned as the WBC world cruiserweight champion between 2018 and 2018, says former opponent Usyk, who is undefeated in 18 fights, winning 13 by way of knockout, has the technical ability to cause Joshua all sorts of problems ahead of their world heavyweight title fight.
He told The DAZN Boxing Show: “Believe you me mate, he hits hard enough to send me down.
“He’s exceptional. He’s the best I ever faced. He is so technically perfect. His footwork is on another level.
“Sometimes (you) just gotta hold your hands up and say I lost to the better guy. He is better than me. He is fantastic, phenomenally gifted in everything that he does.
“My only worry, which I’ve become friends with them and I speak to him was don’t go too big. I just feel like it’s going to be size that beats this man.”
“No one is going to outbox this guy,” he added. “No one’s going to be outboxing the man, leading the dance.
“Nobody in the whole world, not even Fury is going to lead this merry dance, purely because his feet are so good that Tyson will be a little bit lost.
“I think Tyson will try and bring him to them because if you chase and attack someone like Oleksandr, it’s what AJ needs to do because it’s the way AJ can do it, and AJ is a good enough athlete and quick enough with the feet to get there.
“Fury isn’t. So Fury will use his size and try to overcrowd him, get close to lean on, make it messy, make it hard.
“For someone like AJ, I believe AJ is going to be losing when he stops him. I think he’ll be behind on points. I think he catches up with him about rounds eight or nine.
“Hopefully, it can be quicker. If he lets the gap get too big, then this boy can get away with it. Trust me, he’s a threat. He’s a big, big dangerous threat.
“People are overlooking the fact that he’s a cruiserweight. Don’t think about him as a cruiserweight. Just think about his actual technical ability and what he’s capable of doing in a boxing ring. This guy can make people look ridiculous.”
Joshua has won an incredible 24 of his 25 fights, with his only defeat coming against Andy Ruiz Jr back in 2019, which he subsequently avenged in an instant rematch in Saudi Arabia.
Asked recently what he thinks about his experienced opponent, Joshua insisted Usyk has earned his position as his mandatory challenger and deserves his shot.
He said: “I rate all my opponents. He’s good. It’s all about the final bell and whose hand is raised. He’s good but I’m better.
“He is a great challenger for the heavyweight titles.
“I’m looking to do a good job, to handle business, because I have my eyes set on other things.”