Anthony Joshua has brought in Thomas Carty, an up-and-coming Irish heavyweight, as a sparring partner to emulate Oleksandr Usyk.
Joshua is expected to defend his IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight titles against Usyk in late September at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London.
As a southpaw heavyweight, Usyk is a rarity so finding sparring partners to copy that style could be a challenge but Carty has already emulated the unbeaten Ukrainian in training with Derek Chisora.
Describe the sparring sessions with Joshua?
Carty: No ego whatsoever. Sparring is just sparring. There are no liberties taken.
Nobody has asked anything in particular of me. I am left-handed and I’m light on my feet, I utilise a lot of movement, so I naturally emulate Usyk.
You can feel the intensity of the training. Everybody is here to work. You can feel the vibe and the atmosphere.
What has it been like to rub shoulders with Joshua?
Carty: AJ is a gent. He’s a normal bloke, nothing crazy. He’s the heavyweight champion but he’s just an average bloke. A really nice fella.
I have the same goals. Iron sharpens iron.
As a southpaw, you are a rare commodity in the heavyweight division…
Carty: It’s a tactical advantage but only if utilised properly. I don’t have an extra arm or leg. But I do see the benefits.
So many orthodox guys have only boxed orthodox fighters.
It makes me stand out. I’m a young, Irish, southpaw heavyweight – there are no others!
What goals do you have?
Carty: It’s a long journey. I had my first pro week just two weeks ago. But one day I hope to be in AJ’s position otherwise I wouldn’t be doing it.
If I wasn’t good enough, I wouldn’t be doing this. It’s a hard, hard game and not enough people make what they want out of it.
If I didn’t have a good chance, I wouldn’t do it. I’m no idiot.
I have realistic expectations – and they are to be heavyweight champion of the world one day.
Carty’s trainer and manager Paschal Collins said: “He’s an athletic fighter, big and strong. He lives the life, loves to be in the gym. He doesn’t go off celebrating a win, he stays in the gym to keep learning.
“Self-belief? He never had support where he was told that he’s really good. When that clicks and he believes in himself more, he will be a power in the pro game.
“Most boxers don’t like to fight southpaws. If you’ve got 100 boxers in the gym, maybe one will be a southpaw.
“In the heavyweight division, apart from Usyk moving up from cruiserweight, there is Luis Ortiz. Other than that?
“It is an advantage as a heavyweight to be a southpaw.
“Thomas is also so big, 116kg, and he can punch. His punches from the southpaw position? You don’t see them coming.
“AJ has given Thomas advice on what he should do, what he should try.
“Thomas will be a big name in the future. He’s big but he also speaks well.
“He has a fan-base, he can fight, and he’s a southpaw. We have big plans for him.”