Sparring partners lift lid on Joshua and Usyk training camps
Marko Milun and Evgenios Lazaridis take us behind the scenes as Anthony Joshua prepares to defend his belts against Oleksandr Usyk.
Anthony Joshua is set to fight for the first time in 2021 as he defends his heavyweight belts against Oleksandr Usyk at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Saturday.
The WBA, WBO and IBF champion last fought in December 2020, securing a ninth-round knockout against Kubrat Pulev in his first defence since wrestling back his belts from Andy Ruiz.
Former undisputed cruiserweight world champion Usyk is coming off a win over Dereck Chisora and will provide a tough test for Joshua, who is in the sports betting to win the fight.
Now, in an interview with the Betway Insider, sparring partners of both fighters have revealed how they are training ahead of the fight, and weigh in on their chances of victory.
Marko Milun, a Croatian amateur boxing star, was drafted into the Joshua camp to help him prepare, and has provided an insight into the champ's demeanour and training methods.
"It has been a dream come true to be involved in Joshua’s camp," he says. "I was just watching him on TV and then I had a message on Instagram asking me to come spar with AJ, I said: ‘Of course’.
"In the ring, Joshua is very clever and smart. He knows what to do and he does it in the right way, he does everything in the right way. I grew a lot in the time I spent with him, learnt a lot of things that I did not know. Working with Angel Fernandez and Joby Clayton, they made me a little better.
"AJ for me was very surprising, he was very humble. He was like a guy from the local club, not the heavyweight champion, he spoke to us like a normal person. That surprised me."
"I think he chose me and other amateurs as sparring partners because he needed guys similar to Usyk. Usyk fights like an amateur boxer more than a normal professional and maybe that’s why he wanted me and Viktor Jurk and other amateurs. The only professional in camp was Shokran Parwani when I was there.
"I saw in camp that AJ is really smart and he does the right things and I think he'll win this fight. Usyk is also smart but I think AJ has better qualities. He’s bigger, stronger and can punch harder. He has worked hard for this and I think he’ll beat him.
"AJ will be at home, the crowd will be behind him and my prediction is AJ will win comfortably. But I will tell you that this will be a smart fight, not a war."
In the Usyk camp, meanwhile, Greek heavyweight Evgenios Lazaridis has been helping the challenger prepare for the biggest fight of his career.
Having seen first hand what Usyk can do, Lazaridis is predicting a tough night for Joshua and believes he could be in line for his second career loss.
"Being in the camp with Usyk has been great, everything is very organised and I’ve really enjoyed my time helping Usyk prepare for Joshua and being part of his elite team. I was chosen because I am similar size to Joshua and I have good physical fitness," he says.
"Usyk has had a great camp and is doing well - in terms of movement he moves about the ring so well and is very technical. In terms of punching power, Usyk is hitting harder than ever and has a very strong blow. He is a great fighter, an Olympic champion, and a great world champion. He’s working hard, and is rapidly moving towards his next goal of becoming heavyweight champion.
"This fight, of course, will be the toughest of Joshua's career because he has never met such a good and technical boxer in his career before, it is a new challenge for him. I think that for Usyk, Joshua’s size will not be a problem, because he is not a small heavyweight.
"My prediction is a 50/50 fight. Usyk has every chance to win. I advise fans not to miss this great fight, because this fight will be the most spectacular battle as two Olympic and world champions meet."
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