Oleksandr Usyk brings in ‘better skilled than AJ’ sparring partner for rematch

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Anthony Joshua has been told his rival Oleksandr Usyk has brought in the perfect sparring partner for their rematch.

WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight champion Usyk will bring in Martin Bakole again for the return clash with Joshua later this summer. The Ukrainian is preparing for the fight in an unknown European location and is waiting for an official date from promoters Eddie Hearn and Alex Krassyuk for the Saudi Arabia event.

But he is upping his training and contact has been made with Bakole's trainer Billy Nelson to bring the Congolese boxer, who trains in Scotland, into camp. Bakole, 28, sparred with Usyk for the first fight with Joshua, when the Ukrainian outpointed the British favourite in front of a full Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

"I was contacted during the week regarding Martin sparring again," Bakole's trainer Billy Nelson told Sky Sports. "I knew that was going to happen anyway because they were super happy with him on the first occasion, I think Martin gave them the best sparring he's had.

"Usyk and his team respect his skill to the extent that one of his team said Martin will become a world champion in the not too distant future."

Bakole is becoming a popular sparring partner for the world's best heavyweights. He has previously worked with Joshua at his former training base in Sheffield.

While the Congolese boxer was in Tyson Fury's training camp for his recent win over Dillian Whyte at Wembley. Now he will be asked to mimic Joshua's style to help Usyk prepare for the highly-anticipated rematch.

"I'd say Martin's skillset is better than Anthony Joshua's," said Nelson, who has previously trained former world champion Ricky Burns. "Joshua probably punches harder than Martin, but Martin's output is much higher along with his variety of punches."

Usyk and Joshua are set to lock horns on July 23 in Saudi Arabia, although if there is no announcement this week then the fight may be delayed further. Contracts have been swapped between both parties since late last month with amendments now being finalised.

  • Eddie Hearn sets date for potential Fury vs Joshua bout despite Gypsy King's 'retirement'

Last week, Hearn was hesitant to confirm it will definitely happen on July 23 and made it clear it would need to be official this week for the fight to happen on that date which has sparked fears of a further delay.

Joshua, 32, was outpointed and outclassed by Ukrainian Usyk last September at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. He immediately triggered his rematch clause but the return fight has been plagued by delays. Joshua has made changes to his training team with head coach Rob McCracken ditched in favour of Angel Fernandez. He is now preparing at Loughborough University, a previous training base for rival Whyte.

The British fighter is expected to bring in another new coach, who has been described as someone with more experience than Fernandez. It is likely to be an American trainer after Joshua held trials with a number of coaches over in the States.

  • Boxing
  • Anthony Joshua
  • Tyson Fury
  • Eddie Hearn

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