Anthony Joshua has warned his next challenger Oleksandr Usyk that he’s “jumped in at the deep end” in the heavyweight division. The two-time unified boxing world heavyweight champion thinks Usyk will sink or swim when he challenges him at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Saturday.
Usyk has competed in just two professional fights at heavyweight, beating Chazz Witherspoon and Derek Chisora, against whom his victory made him the WBO’s mandatory challenger.
The 34-year-old became a world champion at cruiserweight after just 10 fights and defeated Murat Gassiev to reign as the undisputed champion five bouts and less than two years later.
Usyk boasts incredible experience with 350 amateur fights to his name and won gold in heavyweight boxing at the 2012 London Olympics.
But jumping up to heavyweight at professional level and facing Joshua in his third fight will likely prove to be the toughest test of his long career.
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Joshua has name-dropped Evander Holyfield, who also made the jump up to heavyweight from cruiserweight.
Holyfield triumphed over Buster Douglas in 1990 to become a heavyweight world champion but fought thrice as many competitors before his title shot as Usyk has.
Despite the Ukrainian’s experience at amateur level, Joshua has credited his decision to try and conquer the division early doors.
He said: “He’s done well at heavyweight.
“The difference is when, say, Evander Holyfield came up to heavyweight, I think he had six fights at heavyweight before he fought for the championship belt. That was against Buster Douglas.
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“Usyk’s fought two heavyweights. He’s obviously had the experience of fighting at heavyweight in the World Series of Boxing when he was an amateur, but he’s jumping in at the deep end early on.
“But good luck to him. He must believe in himself. He wants to be at the top end early.
“It’s better to swim deep – to get in there and get on with it – rather than tread water.
“You could still end up drowning anyway. You could still get caught in a current and drown. You might as well jump in the deep end and try to survive.”
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Despite Usyk’s success at heavyweight so far, Joshua insists the Ukrainian veteran is entering his domain on Saturday.
“The two intros at heavyweight for him were good opponents to pick, credit to him.
“But this is heavyweight boxing and I’m the heavyweight champion of the world. I don’t play games. I’m here to win.”Internet Explorer Channel Network