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Tony Bellew explains what Anthony Joshua must do to beat Oleksandr Usyk

The Independent logo The Independent 20/06/2022 Alex Pattle

Tony Bellew has outlined what Anthony Joshua must do in order to beat Oleksandr Usyk – something that both Britons have failed to do.

Bellew was stopped by Usyk in the eighth round in 2018, with the Ukrainian becoming the only undisputed cruiserweight champion of the four-belt era with that result.

Joshua, meanwhile, was outpointed by Usyk in September to lose the WBA, WBO, IBF and IBO heavyweight titles, which he will look to regain in a rematch this August.

“So many questions surround this fight, and once the first bell goes in just over two months’ time, we’ll start to get some answers,” Bellew wrote in a column for DAZN, the streaming platform with whom Joshua signed a deal last week.

“Can the Ukranian, a fighter I know very well after sharing the ring with him back in 2018, be as good as he was last year? His brilliant footwork, timing and movement was something else, and by the time Joshua had realised what was in front of him, it was too late for him to make a difference as Usyk was already well ahead on the scorecards.

“Will Usyk use that same approach, or will he be expecting something a lot different from Joshua this time around? His boxing skills have been enough to see him become a two-weight world champion with the minimum of fuss, but this is the first rematch in his illustrious career and he surely must be expecting an improved version [of Joshua].”

Oleksandr Usyk (right) outpointed Anthony Joshua in London last September (Getty Images) © Provided by The Independent Oleksandr Usyk (right) outpointed Anthony Joshua in London last September (Getty Images)

Joshua has recruited Robert Garcia to his coaching team while promoting Angel Fernandez, with the Olympic gold medalist’s former trainer Rob McCracken stepping away from “AJ”’s set-up ahead of the rematch with Usyk.

“Since the loss to Usyk, Joshua has made huge changes to his team,” wrote Bellew, who labelled Garcia “legendary”. “Robert McCracken is no longer involved and that could be a big factor, but Joshua is a very smart man and he’ll be fully aware of what he’s doing with his team.

“All eyes will be on Robert Garcia in the build-up to this fight, and it’ll be interesting to see what changes he can make to Joshua at this stage of his career. He’s one of the smartest coaches around, and he wouldn’t have taken this job if he didn’t believe he could add value. He was a winner as a fighter, he’s a winner as a trainer, and he’ll be fully focused on winning when preparing Joshua for the biggest test of his career.

“He’ll want AJ to start a lot quicker, because if Usyk is allowed to settle early then you might just see a repeat of the first fight. If Joshua can use his size, speed and power but do it correctly, then he can get Usyk’s attention and let him know he’s in with a different animal from the first fight.

“That’s the approach Joshua should take: let Usyk know he’s in a tough fight right from the outset.”

It was announced on Sunday that Joshua’s rematch with Usyk will take place on 20 August in Saudi Arabia. An exact venue is due to be revealed soon.

Usyk’s decision victory over Joshua in September played out at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, while the 35-year-old also beat Bellew on British soil, with their contest having taken place at Manchester Arena.

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