OLEKSANDR UYSK is a fully-fledged heavyweight after packing on the pounds for his eagerly-anticipated clash with Anthony Joshua.
The undefeated Ukrainian will challenge AJ for the unified heavyweight titles a week on Saturday at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Usyk, 34, underwent a rigorous weight-lifting programme ahead of his debut in the division in October 2019 and has put on more muscle ahead of the Tottenham tussle.
And the former undisputed cruiserweight champ’s promoter – Alexander Krassuyk – reckons he’s more than ready to mix it with the division’s big boys.
In an interview with ESPN, Krassuyk said of his countryman: “He has been working hard.
“Building his body for the heavyweight division, and he’s a true heavyweight now.
“No one can say he is a cruiserweight fighting as a heavyweight like Chris Byrd was. Oleksandr is a natural heavyweight now.”
Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn has been impressed by Usyk’s transformation but is adamant he’ll never be a ‘real heavyweight‘.
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The Matchroom Boxing chief said of the slick southpaw: “I think that Usyk will never be a fully-fledged heavyweight – a real heavyweight in terms of size.
“What he will always have is a huge amount of skill.
“It takes time for people to bed into heavyweight, so put it this way, it would’ve been a lot easier fight for AJ a year-and-a-half ago.
“Now Usyk has fought a real heavyweight contender in Chisora, that will actually help him to start to understand what needs to be done.
“But AJ’s a different kind of beast. A good big guy will always beat a good small guy, so we’ll see.”
Joshua is anticipating a tough challenge from the fleet-footed Usyk and is relishing the tactical showdown with his fellow Olympic gold medallist.
He told the BBC: “On paper, he sits number two, behind Wladimir Klitschko.
“They’re very different technically, but on paper, he’s an Olympic gold medallist, he reigned for over 10 years, he’s number one.
“But Usyk is number two because of his success at cruiserweight and then his success so far at heavyweight.”
“One of his strengths is that he’s getting in the ring with me.
“I’ve got to give him credit for that, it’s going to be tough.”
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