He’s a man of few words anyway — and Oleksandr Usyk only needed one to let us know who he intends to fight once he’s taken care of Tony Bellew.
The Ukrainian is undisputed world cruiserweight champ and defends those belts against Liverpudlian Bellew in Manchester this weekend. But having cleaned up his current division he is planning to move up to heavyweight in the next 12 months.
And we all know who’s the big catch there!
Asked at Thursday’s joint press conference with Bellew if he wants to face Britain’s WBO, WBA and IBF heavyweight king Joshua in 2019, Usyk’s answer was simple. And short.
“Tak,” said the 31-year-old in his native language, which, of course, means “yes” – as if there was any doubt.
How will it go was the next question and the answer was again simple. “Great”. Presumably he meant for him.
“Nobody has promised me the fight, but it is going to happen,” he added.
First, he must beat Bellew , who, he admits, is his toughest fight to date, which is some compliment for the Scouser.
Usyk is one of the best boxers on the planet, with Olympic, world and European gold to his name as an amateur. It took him only 15 professional fights to collect all four major belts – the WBO, WBA, IBF and WBA – since he changed codes.
Along with countryman and three-weight world champion Vasyl Lomachenko, they could claim the two very best in the world come from one country.
He trains on the outskirts of Kiev in the wilderness, where he sleeps on a straw bed and spends his time outside the gym fishing and catching mice that sneak into the spartan living conditions.
Usyk trains his body, but also his mind, with concentration exercises given almost as much time as punching sessions. He celebrates wins with traditional Cossack dancing rather than trash-talking.
The Ukrainian is not your average boxer, for sure, but his extraordinary abilities in the ring are what make him stand out. That has led to Bellew heaping praise on his foet, which, for anyone who knows the Liverpool man, is also rare. But Usyk is not falling into a false sense of security by being putting on a pedestal by Bellew.
In fact, he is happy to hit back at Bellew’s warning that he will “learn how to lose” at Manchester Arena on Saturday night.
“I don’t look in his eyes, I look between his eyes,” said Usyk. “What do I see? I see what a sniper sees when he looks through the scope. I see the target to where I have to put my bullet.”
The southpaw stylist won his European gold in Liverpool in 2008 and became Olympic champion at London 2012, but now he is looking for success in Manchester.
Usyk added: “I’m as glad as a small kid who has received a Kinder Surprise.”
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