By: Sean Crose
“Usyk’s got everything,” Eddie Hearn told ES News in a video released Tuesday. In a sense, the Matchroom Boxing honcho was right. Ukraine’s Usyk is heading into this weekend’s much hyped fight with Anthony Joshua with the WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight titles in his possession. Usyk is also going to enter the ring on Saturday in Saudi Arabia knowing that he’s soundly beaten Joshua, who will be his opponent that day, once before. Hearn, however, made it clear he doesn’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing. “Come into this feeling like the challenger,” he said of Joshua. “For years it’s been the AJ roadshow,” he claimed. “Now, come in as the B-side and you’re the underdog. People are writing you off.”
It’s clear that Hearn sees his fighter being “written off” as a potential motivating factor for former titlist Joshua. “He’s got to be smart,” Hearn said of this weekend’s rematch with Usyk. “The key to this fight in my opinion is once this sixth round goes for the end of the round, this guy’s got to be out of there or he’s got to be damaged or in a place that he really wishes he would never want to go back into again.” Then Hearn said something about Usyk that some may fight surprising.
“You let this guy get into his rhythm,” Hearn said of the defending titlist, “he could be unbeatable.”
Of course, Hearn knows as well as anyone just how good Usyk can be. Before taking Joshua’s heavyweight belts for himself last September the former cruiserweight king put on a clinic. The bigger, more decorated Joshua simply didn’t seem able to keep up. “You let this guy (Usyk) drain you,” Hearn continued, “you let this guy make you do things with your feet you’ve never done before, you’re not going to win this fight.”
For Hearn, the challenge facing Joshua this weekend is simple – but extremely difficult. “You got to hit him hard to the body,” he said, “to the arms, to the shoulders, to the neck. You’ve got to damage him…but he’s a very tough challenge…the key to this fight is those first six rounds.” Hearn not only wants Joshua to win this weekend in Saudi Arabia, he wants him to win decisively.
“I don’t want it to go to points,” he stated. “I don’t like this fight going to points for Anthony Joshua. He can win the fight on points but I want him to knock Oleksandr Usyk spark out because I don’t want any mucking around. I want a nice, clean stoppage where we can all dive in the ring, celebrate and go home with all the belts and that’s what we want.”
“This isn’t the Andy Ruiz rematch,” Hearn added pointedly. “This is another level, this fight.”