Heavyweight great Evander Holyfield believes Anthony Joshua must fight Oleksandr Usyk like he is the Ukrainian’s ‘big brother’ when the pair meet in Saturday’s world title rematch.
If analysis surrounding Joshua’s hopes of reclaiming his WBO, WBA and IBF belts has felt slightly repetitive, it is because it has been, and for obvious reasons. A more aggressive version of the two-time world champion is expected in Jeddah this weekend as he seeks to offer Usyk a different challenge to that of September, when intentions to out-box the tricky southpaw were foiled.
Holyfield is among the latest to urge the Londoner to make his natural size and power felt on the night.
Usyk v Joshua 2: Weigh-In
Friday 19th August 12:30pm
“He has to fight like a big guy. He can’t sit there and tag with this guy, he’s got to hit him with big shots,” Holyfield told Sky Sports.
“If you got a little brother. If you try to keep up, he moves too much, you’ve got to grab him and put all that weight on him and let him feel that you’re the stronger one and this is a big guy fight and there isn’t no way he can beat you in a big guy fight.
“I know both of the guys are capable of winning, it’s just who does it that night when the pressure happens. The fact of the matter is how a person thinks. I knew what my thinking was going to be in there.
“I always said that every guy that got the best of me was a guy lighter than me with fast hands, I sat there watching. But that’s what big guys used to do when they were in front of me, I was so good they sat there watching and then the fight is over.”
“It ain’t impossible [for Joshua], all it takes is one shot with him. The point of the matter – is he going to be aggressive enough to go out and do it?”
Holyfield himself is no stranger to a rematch environment, having notably made adjustments to avenge his opening defeat to Riddick Bowe in the second fight of their trilogy.
“Bowe was a boxer and a puncher, he was a big guy,” added the former world champion. “The first fight, because me and him were good buddies, I talked too much with him so we shared too much information.
“So he tells me when the fight starts, ‘if you don’t run, I’m gonna knock you out’.
“I didn’t run, I took it toe-to-toe and so by him being bigger, he threw the bigger shots so that made me not run out of gas, but brought me down.
“On the second time, I moved around, he couldn’t keep up with me moving around, then I beat him up.
“Of course if you go with a bigger guy that is a bigger puncher than you and he’s hitting you more than you hit him, you’re going to get tired because you’ve got all that weight on you.”
Usyk has followed in the footsteps of Holyfield in trading in life as cruiserweight world champion to reign at the pinnacle of the heavyweight division.
Reflecting on the transition, Holyfield explained: “I wouldn’t say it’s easy, because you’ve got to take away everything necessary to be a fighter.
“The art of the game is boxing and the boxer is going to have the advantage all the time unless he gets knocked out.
“That’s what boxers do – box. And boxing is ‘you’re going to hit that guy more times than that guy is going to hit you’, and if it goes the distance you’re going to out-point them.
“But if you’re a big puncher, what can a big puncher do? I’m going to get you out of there.”
Anthony Joshua’s huge heavyweight rematch against Oleksandr Usyk is on Saturday August 20, live on Sky Sports Box Office. Book Usyk vs Joshua 2 now!