A sparring partner of Oleksandr Usyk has claimed that the former cruiserweight lacks the power of upcoming opponent Anthony Joshua.
The undefeated Usyk (18-0, 13 KOs), who was undisputed cruiserweight champion from 2018 until 2019, when he vacated his belts, takes on Joshua for the Briton’s WBA, IBF, WBO, and IBO heavyweight titles at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London on Saturday 25 September.
Heavyweight Martin Bakole says he sparred with Usyk for two weeks to help the Ukrainian prepare for Joshua, and added that ‘AJ’ will unsurprisingly have a power advantage over Usyk, who has fought just twice at heavyweight.
Bakole, who has also sparred with Joshua (24-1, 22 KOs), told iFL TV: “[Usyk] is a top guy and he’s got good skills. He has a top record and everyone knows he’s the best. But at heavyweight, one punch can change your stuff.
“He’s good. I sparred him for two weeks, and I don’t know if it’s the way that he prepared for it, but he never hit me with a punch that hurt me.
“Maybe he’s saving that for the fight, but cruiserweight is not the same as a heavyweight. If you see him, he looks small. He needs to put some weight on because at heavyweight they have a nice punch.
“At cruiserweight, he has nice skill, but I don’t think he has the same power as AJ; AJ has more power than him. I sparred him, and I never see any big punch like when I sparred AJ. That’s the big difference.
“If [Usyk] had enough power, he would have knocked out [Derek] Chisora. Let’s see what he is going to bring on 25 September.
“I think he’s working on going the distance. I didn’t see anything where he can knock AJ out.”
Usyk’s heavyweight debut saw him outpoint American Chazz Witherspoon in October 2019, before the 34-year-old beat Joshua’s compatriot Chisora via unanimous decision in October 2020.
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