Anthony Joshua will be facing a “real heavyweight” when he defends his world titles against Oleksandr Usyk later this year.
That is the viewpoint of the Ukranian’s promoter, Alexander Krassyuk, who has warned that the cruiserweight version of Usyk has now been replaced by a genuine heavyweight contender.
“He is looking good. He is very determined, very focused,” Krassyuk claimed. “He worked hard over the last two months making himself a real heavyweight, which he is now.”
The K2 Promotions head confirmed that the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium is the most likely destination for a bout that is expected to take place on 25th September.
Joshua is yet to fight this year, with his last outing a ninth-round stoppage of Kubrat Pulev back in December. That came off the back of his redemption night in Saudi Arabia that saw him wrestle back his WBA, IBF and WBO belts from Andy Ruiz.
It is now two years since ‘AJ’ lost his titles to the Mexican on that incredible Madison Square Garden evening, but his change in approach since then makes him an entirely different proposition to any challengers looking to claim his titles.
In Usyk, he faces a fighter who is widely regarded as a pound-for-pound great, a list that Joshua doesn’t feature on.
Although the majority of boxing fans were desperate to see the undisputed British bout between Joshua and Tyson Fury, Krassyuk has warned against looking beyond his fighter.
“It looks like it’s going to be the toughest fight for Usyk,” he admitted. “But you never know what might happen. Usyk has his advantage in his skills, determination and experience. He’s a much more experienced fighter than AJ.
“The only thing I can say is that when Usyk enters the ring, it will be the toughest Usyk we could ever see.”
The 34-year-old made history by becoming undisputed cruiserweight king in just 15 fights before stepping up to heavyweight, but Betfred still make the visiting fighter a 2/1 underdog, with Joshua priced at 2/5.
Speaking on Betfred’s Boxing Show, the promoter ended the interview with a smile on his face as he discussed the rematch clause that is to be inserted in the agreement between Joshua and Usyk.
“Joshua wanted it to happen,” he chuckled. “He wanted Usyk to beat him twice in a row.”
Fellow Ukrainian Vasiliy Lomachenko was back in action over the weekend, as he bounced back from his defeat to Teofimo Lopez with an emphatic stoppage win over Masayoshi Nakatani in Las Vegas.
Krassyuk was in awe of the performance and believes that a rematch with Lopez is inevitable.
“An amazing performance, absolutely amazing. It looked like two boxers from different dimensions. A guy from outer space, an alien, arrived in the ring and performed that night.
“His speed, skills, determination and focus was so strong that he didn’t leave a single chance. He defeated him in every second.”