Oleksandr Usyk vs Anthony Joshua 2: AJ accused of being 'too nice'

  • Tom Ward

Anthony Joshua has been accused of being ‘too nice’ ahead of his crunch rematch with Oleksandr Usyk.

That is the view of former cruiserweight world champion Johnny Nelson, who insists that ‘AJ let Usyk feel comfortable in his presence’.

Instead, the now Sky Sports pundit believes his fellow countryman needs to stop acting so friendly towards his opponent.

The pair’s rematch is currently scheduled for August 20 in Saudi Arabia at Jeddah’s Superdome.

Nelson told iFL TV: “I was surprised AJ let Usyk feel comfortable in his presence. If I was his people, I’d say, ‘Don’t do that, play that, don’t do that s**t.’

“You want to have this guy feeling uncomfortable around you. Even when the cameras aren’t around, don’t be having little selfies with him. Don’t be making this guy feel comfortable and doing that because when you’re comfortable, you produce cameos of brilliance.

“I’ve mentioned it before, fighting is mental warfare, and fights are won a long, long time before you get in the ring. You look at Roberto Duran against Sugar Ray Leonard for the first fight. He enraged him, he got under his skin and got him to box in a way that he didn’t want to box.

“He made Sugar Ray sleep, dream, eat him. When he got in the ring, his brain had gone. Sugar Ray learnt the lesson and came back six months later and outboxed him.

Johnny Nelson reckons Anthony Joshua is being ‘too nice’ to Oleksandr Usyk in the buildup to their rematch

“Now, AJ has got to learn from this. I don’t want you to feel comfortable in my presence. I don’t want you to feel familiar around me. I want you to think, ‘S***, what’s going on here?’ I want you to be your every thought.

“I want you to think, ‘What am I going to bring different?’ When I make you feel comfortable like we’re cool friends and stuff like that, what’s on your mind? Usyk wants to pretend that we’re friends, and that ‘We’re all cool, we’re all right. This is just business, then I’m going to kick the s**t out of you when we start fighting.’

“So, Usyk got what he wanted. AJ is a gentleman, he’s polite, he’s respectful, and I get that. But in this fight, he needs some crude a** roughness going on.

“That’s what he needs. He needs to get in there, and it doesn’t just start with my style of fighting. It starts with my mentality, how I approach you and how you are around me.

“Me staring you out during the standoff don’t mean jack diddly if we’re going to take selfies with each other backstage. He’s got to really get at him, he’s got to make him feel uncomfortable, and he’s got to cut that s**t out.

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Where was Anthony Joshua born?

“When I saw that, ‘Man, come on. Don’t fall for that, don’t play that game.’ Because it was too familiar.

“I know it’s business. I know these guys are thinking like ‘I don’t hate you, it’s just business,’ but if you want to win and do something different, different starts now. It doesn’t start when the bell goes.

“AJ has got to think, ‘No, I’m not playing that game anymore.’

“I don’t know if that chance is gone or if we’re all in again, but the next time they meet each other will be when it comes time for fight week to promote it. No, this thing needs to start now.

“He needs to have Usyk thinking about him constantly thinking, ‘S**t, what is he going to do differently?’ Something is not right here.”

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