Anthony Joshua vs Oleksandr Usyk: Ukrainian 'bossed' Wladimir Klitschko in sparring

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After his fight with Tyson Fury fell through earlier this year, Anthony Joshua is now preparing to defend his heavyweight titles against Ukrainian fighter Oleksandr Usyk, who will present a tough challenge for the British boxer.

Former Olympic champion Usyk called out Joshua after using his superior footwork and power to defeat Derek Chisora via unanimous decision in 2020, just a year after the Ukrainian fighter moved up to boxing’s heavyweight division.

Despite his little experience in the weight category, Usyk is still a well-worn fighter and has troubled some of the best fighters in the world, including former two-time heavyweight champion and compatriot Wladimir Klitschko.

In the run-up to Klitschko’s 2015 title defence against Fury, the former heavyweight champion, perhaps to his own downfall, called upon Usyk to help him prepare for the fight against the Gypsy King.

Noting Usyk’s style and agility was similar to Fury’s, Klitschko believed he would be a good sparring partner to help him prepare for the fight against the Brit.

Instead, his plan backfired.

According to Sky Sports’ boxing analyst Johnny Nelson, the much smaller in stature fighter Usyk “bossed” Klitschko, so much so that his team forced Usyk to leave the ring to avoid any further embarrassment in front of a crowd of onlookers.

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

In an interview with Behind the Gloves, Nelson said: “When I saw him sparring with Wladimir when Wladimir was preparing for Tyson Fury, I said, ‘Who is that guy? Who is he?'

“I had no idea, but I know there was something special about him. He did one round with Wladimir, and Wladimir slung him out and said, ‘get out, not while the press is here.’

He was making it hard for Wladimir. He was like bossing Wladimir.

Across 15 years, Klitschko dominated world boxing alongside his brother Vitali, with Wladimir amassing one of boxing’s most revered fight records, going 64-5 during his career.

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AJ regards him as his toughest ever opponent, but Joshua has also given his upcoming opponent a great deal of respect coming into the fight, stating: “On paper, he sits number two, behind Wladimir Klitschko.

“They’re very different technically, but on paper, he’s an Olympic gold medallist, he reigned for over 10 years, he’s number one.

“But Usyk is number two because of his success at cruiserweight and then his success so far at heavyweight.

“One of his strengths is that he’s getting in the ring with me.

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“I’ve got to give him credit for that; it’s going to be tough.”

Joshua will defend his IBF, WBO and WBA (Super) heavyweight titles against 34-year-old Usyk at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on September 25, 2021.

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