The winner of the Oleksandr Usyk vs Anthony Joshua rematch is likely to be decided by which of the fighters makes the right adjustments and that question will only be answered when the two box again on August 20, live and exclusive on Sky Sports Box Office.
But the signs in the build-up are that a different type of fight is in store for the rematch, certainly from Joshua. Before the former champion set up his training camp in Saudi Arabia, he had been training in Loughborough alongside rising cruiserweight star Richard Riakporhe.
Riakporhe has seen an uncommon determination in Joshua to win back his unified heavyweight titles and avenge the points loss he suffered against Usyk last year.
“I can’t give away the game plan because I would get slaughtered but one thing I will tell you, the intensity, the intention behind his shots when he throws, the hunger, with what he’s achieved so far, coming back into the gym day in and day out,” Riakporhe said.
“A lot of people would not be able to do that if they had achieved what Anthony Joshua has achieved so far. He’s hungry. He wants to create a legacy for himself. I can see in his eyes, I can see in his body language. I message him, he’s up at 6am sending me videos. I’m sending him videos too, studying, studying and studying some more.
“He’s going to do it. I believe he’s going to do it.”
The task on August 20 will be even harder though than it was in September when they first fought. Usyk will likely have improved too.
Cruiserweight prospect Viddal Riley said: “The winner also gets a chance to adjust and learn from the first fight. We always focus on the person that came up short. But the winner was also in there. So that’s a factor to consider. But AJ he looks very focused. I’ve been seeing him on the socials, his mentality is there. We hope he can pull it off. It’s a tough ask against a great champion like Usyk.”
Former cruiserweight champion Johnny Nelson knows the challenge is great but warns against writing Joshua off.
“This is not an impossible ask,” Nelson said. “It’s very possible. AJ’s got to go in there with the right mindset, the right game plan. This is a fight he can win and become a three-time heavyweight champion of the world.”
Nelson pointed out that Joshua has the power to hurt Usyk. “Look at the last fight. Look at the state of Usyk when he came out. Usyk looked like he’d been hit by a bus even though he won and AJ lost,” he said.
“AJ now has to go in and do what he does. Go in and fight his fight. So let’s see if there’s a difference. Use that height, use that range. Use that ruggedness about him.
“If he uses that, I cannot see him losing. Yes, the hullabaloo is there about Oleksandr Usyk but he is beatable. It can be done.”