Anthony Joshua (24-2, 22 KO) of Great Britain was set to defend his WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight title belts against Oleksandr Usyk (19-0, 13 KO) at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London on September 25. Usyk asked his amateur mentor Anatoly Lomachenko to put together a training regimen to secure a world title triumph. The fight pitted two London 2012 Olympic gold medalists against each other, with Joshua topping the podium in the super-heavyweight division, while the decorated Ukrainian (trained at the time by Anatoly Lomachenko) reigned supreme in the heavyweight bracket. Renowned for his nimble footwork, exemplary hand speed and head movement, Usyk collected all four major belts at cruiserweight and has won all of his 18 professional contests.
Usyk had been trained by Yuri Tkachenko for his last points victory over Derek Chisora (32-9, 23 KO) of Great Britain in October 2020, but has returned to Anatoly, the revered trainer and father of his close friend, pound-for-pound star Vasyl Lomachenko. Lomachenko’s promoter, Bob Arum of Top Rank, revealed the change in Usyk’s team after talking with Usyk’s manager Egis Klimas and hearing of “Papa Lomachenko’s” agreeing to properly train Usyk for his upcoming bout. Anatoly only trains his son, but made an exception in this case because Usyk is considered extended family to the Lomachenkos.
Joshua is the bigger, heavier frame with a more powerful punch. Usyk is the more agile, quicker boxer. Having experienced only two fights in the heavyweight division since stepping up from 200 pounds, questions remained about the Ukrainian’s punch resistance and his ability to trouble the top heavyweights with his power.
It was hoped these questions would be answered September 25 in London. Anatoly Lomachenko’s preparation and strategy played a key role in the answers.
Ihor Stelmach may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.