Anthony Joshua could deliver the biggest night in British heavyweight boxing against Oleksandr Usyk, and, in his own words, GB Olympic captain Frazer Clarke explains why.
I was at most of the sparring sessions that took place in the UK.
I’m just a fighter in the gym but I have that captain personality where I want to see that everyone is doing well in the gym. So there were times when I asked the coaches if it was okay if I shared my opinion and I said the odd word here and there.
I think the one thing you look for from a fighter you always like is dedication and will for the cause. I think Joshua went to Loughborough 12 weeks before going to Jeddah, probably 14. Loughborough is a lovely place but not much to do. He did not return to London and I think that in itself is a statement of intent. He took himself for a long time. It’s been a long time for a camp. That’s tough mentally, tough physically.
In a six week camp there are ups and downs so you can imagine what it’s like in a 14, 16, 18 week camp like that. There are good days, there are bad days, there are ups and downs. If you get more good days than bad days, you’re on the right track.
The team he used was good for the fight. You get the youth of Angel Fernandez, the enthusiasm of Angel Fernandez and the skill of Angel Fernandez with the experience of Robert Garcia. He has many championship fights.
Good sparring – not exactly sparring because trying to imitate Oleksandr Usyk is almost impossible. You are good fighters but not many people have that quality. You will never find an experience like his. They have good fighters, cut and change different people. They did a great job, I think.
He had no illusions. He will have to be at his best to beat Usyk. I think he should be better than before. Better than the night of Wladimir Klitschko. I feel he should be Klitschko-esque. That night there were ups and downs and he had to come back. Maybe he just needs to do that.
He has every chance. From what I’ve seen that he puts in every day and every week, he gives himself every chance and that’s all you can ask from a fighter in a camp. If you give everything you have to give, with the experience and skills he already has, he gives himself every time.
There are a lot of people out there talking about Usyk being great and this and that. He is very good. No doubt. He is a good fighter. But he is a man. If AJ hits him on the chin more than once, he’s only human, he’s down, he probably won’t get up.
If Joshua can get a sustained combination with anyone in the world, boxer or non-boxer, possibly animal or tree, he will go through with it.
I sparred with him for hundreds of rounds. I thought of this ‘he’s gun shy’ thing – he wasn’t gun shy when I saw him in sparring, believe me.
I feel he is a nice guy. I think someone needs to pull the bad guy out of him. I think Robert Garcia is good at doing that. He pulled the not give a [stuff] about anyone but winning this fight. He took it from her.
It could be British heavyweight boxing’s biggest night yet. I feel like everyone is putting him as a huge underdog and he can only be outboxed in 12 rounds. But you’d be crazy to bet on him again.
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