By Charles Brun: Oleksandr Usyk reportedly looks “dangerous” and angry in camp, sending sparring partners home as he prepares for his rematch against Anthony Joshua on August 20th in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
One of the unified heavyweight champion Usyk’s sparring partners that have lasted through camp since June is Kazakh Nursultan Amanzholov, and his manager Aamir Ali says Oleksandr has been going “to war” with him in their sparring sessions.
Former IBF/WBA/WBO heavyweight champion Joshua (24-2, 22 KOs) had better be ready for his rematch on August 20th because it sounds like Usyk (19-0, 13 KOs) isn’t messing around this time.
The former undisputed cruiserweight champion Usyk will go for the knockout and not allow Joshua to hang around for 12 rounds, as he did last September in their first fight.
One gets the sense that Usyk wants to make a statement this time by beating Joshua for his country Ukraine, as a knockout victory would play well at home.
“He [Amanzholov] says there are days when Usyk goes to war with him. A lot of his heavyweights have been sent back home if they can’t stay in camp. They can’t keep up,” said Aamir Ali to Sky Sports. “He says [Usyk] is in tremendous shape for this camp.”
Joshua hasn’t looked like the same fighter he once was since being destroyed by replacement opponent Andy Ruiz Jr in June 2019. Ruiz took something from Joshua mentally from that fight, knocking him out in seven rounds and leaving AJ looking like a shell-shocked war veteran.
Joshua has looked timid and unsure of himself in the three fights since that loss, even against an old shot, 41-year-old Kubrat Pulev. Usyk’s skill level will be too much for Joshua, and the 11 months out of the ring won’t be good for AJ.
The addition of Robert Garcia in Joshua’s camp as the new trainer likely won’t make a difference in the outcome of the rematch because Usyk will be on him from the jump on August 20th and lighting him up with shots.
Robert would need more than one camp to make lasting changes with Joshua, and the things he can teach him won’t improve his poor stamina and punch resistance. Those flaws in AJ’s game are going to be resistant to change.
“He said as soon as [Usyk] came back from Jeddah, from the press conference, the day he arrived back, he phoned up Nursultan who was sitting in his hotel and said to him, ‘I want you sparring today.’ [Amanzholov] said he was in a foul mood. He was in a really angry mood and wanted to go to war,” said Ali.
Usyk’s footwork and skills are on another level than Joshua’s, and he’s more willing to go to war. We saw that last September with the way Usyk would retaliate with combinations whenever Joshua would land a good shot.