Former WBO cruiserweight world champion Johnny Nelson has claimed that Anthony Joshua asked a security guard how to fight a southpaw during his ring walk to fight Oleksandr Usyk. The Brit was defeated twice by the Ukrainian in the ring after failing to get to grips with his opponent’s boxing style.
Joshua and Usyk went head-to-head on two heavyweight title fights in 2021 and 2022 with the Ukranian emerging victorious on both occasions. Joshua struggled to get the better of his opponent’s style with Usyk adopting a southpaw stance, while the Brit is more orthodox.
Now it has emerged that Joshua was concerned about this difference ahead of the fight and was asking around for advice. The 33-year-old has only been involved in four high-profile southpaw fights during his career, two of which were Usyk.
The revelation was made on William Hill’s Up Front podcast as Simon Jordan shared a story with Nelson about the questions Joshua had been asking ahead of the fight.
Jordan said: “I heard from a leading trainer that before Anthony [Joshua] went into one of the [Oleksandr] Usyk fights, Lawrence Okolie was fighting on the undercard, and Anthony was talking to one of the trainers asking what he should do in his fight against Usyk.”
However, Nelson had a better story in response. The 56-year-old suggested that Joshua had asked more than just boxing trainers about how to beat him, even asking the head of security on the way to the ring.
“I’ve got one better than that!” Nelson exclaimed. “He was walking to the ring against Usyk, my friend was the head of security walking next to him, Joshua said to him ‘how would you fight a southpaw?’, on the way to the ring!
“What I’m trying to say is that what he’s displaying to me is that right now a two-time heavyweight world champion is in a fight and he’s looking over at his corner man, and I’m thinking ‘what are you doing?’
“He should be at the point where the muzzle comes off, he goes in and gets the job done, then he comes back out and you put the muzzle back on, but he’s still thinking and acting like a novice. He’s still acting like a kid that doesn’t know what he’s doing and if you don’t know by now, you’re never going to know.”
In the end, the advice Joshua received was not very useful as he fell to two comfortable defeats against Usyk in two consecutive bouts.