By Brian Webber: Unified heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk says he’s not going to reveal what his game plan is for his rematch with challenger Anthony Joshua on Saturday.
Usyk (19-0, 13 KOs) does plan on coming in heavier for this fight than his previous one last September, in which he weighed 221 lbs. It’s questionable whether Usyk needed to pack on weight for the second fight with Joshua, given his success last time.
The added size that Usyk has put on could slow him down enough to where Joshua can land more of his heavy shots than he did last time out in London.
Usyk vows to do his best
“I realize that I have to do my job properly, and it’s not going to be an easy assignment for me,” said Oleksandr Usyk to Sky Sports.
“I will not tell you much about my strategy,” Usyk maintained. “I am a bit heavier than I was last time.
“I will do my best,” he insisted, “to give the best performance that I can.”
“I’m not a big forecaster. You’ll see Saturday night; I’ll just do my job, what I have to do,” said Usyk.
“I feel like we should be the B-side this week, the challengers, the ones that have nothing because we do have nothing, and we’re here to win it all,” said Eddie Hearn to Fight Hub TV about Anthony Joshua coming into the rematch with Usyk belt-less.
“That’s the mentality that AJ has got to have going into this fight. He’s ready, he’s in tremendous shape, and I can’t wait for what I think will be a tremendous heavyweight fight this weekend,” said Hearn.
Good undercard fights
“We haven’t really been involved in the undercard too much other than our three fights that are on the card, which is Filip Hrgovic against Zhilei Zhang,” Hearn continued.
“It’s a final eliminator for the world heavyweight title. Callum Smith against Mathieu Bauderlique, a great fight as well. It’s a final eliminator for Artur Beterbiev, and Ramla Ali, who becomes the first female to fight in the Kingdom.
“Sky is very good at pushing pay-per-views. Timing is a problem. It was announced three weeks ago, and obviously, it’s outside of the UK as well. AJ has been here. By the time the fight comes around, I’m sure Sky will be behind the fight.
“Obviously, they have the fight in the UK. DAZN has the fight in 190 countries plus and worldwide as well. There are other broadcasters as well. It’s a huge night.
“Of course, but they might not want to do any media with me,” said Hearn when asked if he’ll be doing any media with Sky this week. “I’m a promoter, and I’m working in this event. They’re a huge part of this event.
“I’ve done 30 interviews so far, and I don’t even know who 28 of them are. So, I will give all my time to everybody as always. He’s got to be smart and has got to be more aggressive,” said Hearn when asked how Joshua can beat Usyk.
Aj must fight with ferocity
“He’s got to fight with ferocity and intensity, and he’s got to damage Oleksandr Usyk,” Hearn said. “He’s got to make sure he does that within the first six rounds of the fight.
“You don’t want to go into the later stages of this fight with a fresh Oleksandr Usyk. It’s going to be a very interesting fight, and I believe he will win the fight by knockout.
“Absolutely not. He loves fighting,” said Hearn when asked if Joshua would retire if he loses the rematch with Usyk. “He’s still a relative baby in terms of fights. His resume is unbelievable
“We do want to get him more active, but all those fights. Tyson Fury, Dillian Whyte, Deontay Wilder; there are so many fights in the division. Win or lose on Saturday; the story will continue.
“I’m not really interested in losing at all. He must win this weekend. If AJ had signed with Sky instead of DAZN, Johnny Nelson would be saying that Anthony Joshua is the second coming of Muhammad Ali.
“It’s bizarre even to suggest that if a fighter loses to the pound-for-pound number one in the sport they should be hanging up his gloves.
“So let’s get behind him [Joshua], regardless of outlets, broadcasters. Let’s get behind our boy AJ and see him bring it home because he’s giving it everything.
“He’s stepping up once again tonight, a pound-for-pound number one in the sport. Give him credit and get behind him,” said Hearn.
Joshua had the wrong game plan
“I think he prepared hard enough, but he had the wrong game plan,” said Hearn about Joshua in his first fight with Usyk last September. “People told him that he couldn’t outbox him, so maybe he took that a little bit personally.
“That was a bad move, and he can’t afford to do that again. This time, I want him out of there by the sixth round. I want him in a place that he never wants to be again.
“He [Joshua] needs to freshen up. It’s all about believing now. With AJ, he’s got to believe in the game plan. He’s got to be told in this fight and shouted out if things go wrong.
“He’s got to adapt quickly in this fight. Robert Garcia is a great trainer. The energy and the vibe in the fight camp are great, and we’re very confident of success.
“Our promotional contract with him [Usyk] ended some time ago. But this particular fight with AJ was a one-fight with a rematch clause.. So this is, depending on what happens, aw may continue with him, win or lose. Are focus is on Anthony Joshua,” said Hearn.
Hearn doesn’t want Usyk to win
“I don’t want, ‘Come on, Oleksandr Usyk. Whatever happens in the weekend, we’ll talk.’ F*** that. I just want an AJ win by any means necessary,” Hearn said.
“I have no interest in seeing Oleksandr Usyk win this fight. Ill worry about it later because I’m snide if I’m even thinking about that,” said Hearn about Usyk becoming one of the most lucrative free agents in the sport if he wins on Saturday.
“Honestly, I’m not thinking about that at all. If he wins and we have a conversation down the line no problem. But I don’t want Oleksandr Usyk to win this fight,” said Hearn.