Anthony Joshua has been warned to get ready for a ‘rough ride’ in his bout against Oleksandr Usyk next month by former WBO cruiserweight king Johnny Nelson.
Joshua will make his return against former undisputed cruiserweight champion Usyk at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on September 25, with his unified heavyweight belts on the line.
Nelson predicted Joshua to come out on top, labelling him ‘too big’ and ‘far too aggressive’ for Usyk to handle, but believes Joshua is in for a gruelling encounter against his opponent, who is bidding to become a two-weight world champion.
‘I’ve always been a massive fan of Anthony Joshua, it’s never been hidden,’ Nelson said, speaking to Sky Sports.
‘I’m a fan of Oleksandr Usyk because at cruiserweight I said, “This guy is the heir apparent. I could see him stepping up to heavyweight and making a massive impression like Evander Holyfield back in the day.”
‘[But he’s a] different style of fighter. But then I saw his introduction to the heavyweight division and I was underwhelmed.
‘And he’s a good fighter, excellent pedigree.
‘Better pedigree than Anthony Joshua as an amateur at least. I think Anthony Joshua will be far too big, far too strong, far too sharp and far too aggressive.
‘And Usyk’s got to depend on his unorthodox style to try and befuddle Anthony Joshua to get through that fight.
‘It’s not an easy fight. So if anybody tries to say this is a done deal, this is not a done deal. This is a tough fight for Anthony Joshua.
‘So Anthony Joshua needs to make sure he has his white about him, does not underestimate this guy just because he’s a small opponent.
‘But he needs to stamp his authority as a big strong, fast, athletic heavyweight champion. In doing that, I expect him to get the win. But it’s going to be a rough ride.’
Nelson has also admitted that Usyk is capable of causing major upset.
Conceding ‘it could happen with any heavyweight out there’, Nelson added: ‘So he’s (Joshua) kept his head down and got on with it and thought, “Right, I’m fighting this guy who is a dangerous guy.”
‘And if you know your boxing, you know Usyk is dangerous and he cannot afford to have a slip-up.’