Oleksandr Usyk has recalled his first meeting with Anthony Joshua, just days before they battle for three of the four major belts on September 25.
Joshua, 31, will defend his WBA, WBO and IBF heavyweight world titles against his mandatory challenger Usyk at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London on Saturday night
In 2011, Joshua met the Ukrainian for the first time at the World Amateur Championships in Azerbaijan.
Only 21 at the time, 'AJ' was controversially beaten in the final by Magomedrasul Majidov whilst on Team GB duties in Baku. Usyk was in the crowd.
“I remember very well,” Usyk told Sky Sports.
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“He lost his final fight against Mahommedrasul Majidov.
“It was a good final, you know. I watched it live."
Usyk however expected that controversial loss would spark a fire in Joshua and he would ultimately turn out to be right.
“I said to my team: ‘This guy is the future Olympic champion,’" he added.
“Next year, in 2012, Anthony was the Olympic champion.
“Why did I think this? I watched his fight.
"I watched Anthony. I saw him progress, progress, progress.”
“I saw that this guy would grow up in his mind."
The two would meet again several months later at the London 2012 Olympic Games, with Joshua once again representing the blue, red and white flag of Great Britain, while Usyk was part of an elite Ukraine squad including Denys Berinchyk and Vasyl Lomachenko.
“I have watched all of his fights,” he revealed.
“Absolutely each and every one of his fights.
“I can’t say that I was so impressed by AJ.
“What really impressed me was our boxing dream team and our results.”
“Of course I remember,” he replied when asked if he can recall his staredown with Joshua after the latter's win over Alexander Povetkin in September 2018.
“AJ was fighting in London at Wembley with Alexander Povetkin.
“I remember that he made a sign to me. I think he noticed me in the crowd. He waved his hand to me.
"I was quite sure that good guys like us should fight each other.
“I had other things on my mind – my job, my family, my wife, my children. He was not on my mind.
"But I had a goal to fight with him. Because he is the Olympic champion.”
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