Joshua has taken a very particular approach to training for Usyk, who while considerably smaller, is one of the pound-for-pound best fighters in the world today
Anthony Joshua sparred with just his left hand to prepare for his world title defence this weekend with the southpaw Oleksanr Usyk.
Unified champion Joshua, who is a strong favourite against mandatory challenger and former cruiserweight champion Usyk, took on some sparring partners without the use of his powerful right hand in order.
The world heavyweight champion has taken a very particular and focused approach to Usyk – and requested the fight take place six weeks after his initially planned fight date with Tyson Fury on August 14.
Joshua insisted on having as much time to train as possible, understanding the very unique threat that Usyk, who has yet to prove himself at the weight class, poses.
“When Eddie Hearn came up here he saw me spar and I was only allowed to use my left hand,” Joshua said ahead of the fight.
“I sparred 12 rounds just with my left hand, which is really challenging against a southpaw – the sparring partners are allowed to do whatever they want but I’m only allowed to use my left hand.
“So it was good, deep practice. It’s very engaging because you can’t just use your brute strength and size.
“It’s made me think about my positioning, my lead hand control. A lot of people, when they fight southpaws, don’t realise the importance of the jab. But the jab is so important.”
Watching the bizarre session gave Hearn cause for concern, with the promoter adding that he left the session unsure of what exactly was going on.
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“Thank God you told me that,” Hearn joked after Joshua told the story on a media call to promote the bout, which takes place at Tottenham Hotspur stadium on Saturday.
“I wondered what you were doing – I drove home [from Joshua’s training camp] going ‘bloody hell’.”
Joshua has admitted that he is “training on the edge” for Usyk, knowing that a win in this bout would surely set up an undisputed bout against the holder of the one belt he doesn’t own; the WBC title.
That heavyweight world championship is currently in the possession of Tyson Fury, who faces Deontay Wilder in three weeks’ time at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
However, Joshua is solely focused on Usyk, claiming that he still has a burning desire to defeat a man who is known as a pound-for-pound great of the modern era.
“Even though it’s not Tyson Fury, it’s still a great fight,” Joshua continued.
“I’m up against an opponent that makes me want to get up in the morning because I want to improve.
“There’s a lot of talk about size – good big guy beats good little guy, but if that’s the case, why am I waking up in the morning to train? Why am I sitting in ice baths? Why am I passionate about it?
“Because I’m fighting a good guy. Fighting the good fight. I’m looking forward to the challenge.”