Oleksandr Usyk plans to watch an episode of Peaky Blinders before switching off Anthony Joshua


Oleksandr Usyk will relax in unorthodox fashion in the hours before making his entrance into a Tottenham Hotspur Stadium boiling with the hostility of 60,000 Anthony Joshua fans.

‘If I read a book it will the Bible,’ Usyk says. ‘The words of God.’

There may also be time to watch a Netflix episode or two of Peaky Blinders, the period series about a gangland mob in Birmingham of which he says: ‘This is how a family should be. Protecting and standing up for each other. My favourite character is the boss Thomas (played by Cillian Murphy). It is like real life. It is cool and emotional. And I like the smart way they dress.

Usyk will relax in unorthodox fashion in the hours before making his entrance on Saturday

‘I will also talk to my loved one (wife Kateryna). Talk to my son Mykhailo to make sure he goes to school. Which he does not like but needs to do to get the knowledge to become a man. Which also makes me feel stronger.’

And Usyk will chat with his team which now includes the father and trainer of Vasiliy Lomachenko, his fellow Ukrainian master boxer.

Of Papachenko, as they both call Anatoly Lomachenko, he says: ‘He is a great man. He will be with me. Next to me. He is helping me to be a great man as well.’

He is also helping Usyk make the challenging transition from cruiserweight, in which division he was the undisputed world champion, to heavyweight. With Joshua in the offing, Papachenko took over as head trainer.

Usyk will fight Anthony Joshua and look to win AJ's IBF, WBA and WBO straps (above)

Usyk will fight Anthony Joshua and look to win AJ’s IBF, WBA and WBO straps (above) 

Usyk has said he will either read the bible or watch Peaky Blinders (above) before the fight

Usyk has said he will either read the bible or watch Peaky Blinders (above) before the fight

The scale of this task has been emphasised by how Usyk appeared to struggle against bigger, heavier men in his first two fights at heavyweight, although he stopped American journeyman Chazz Witherspoon in seven rounds and outpointed Derek Chisora.

Tyson Fury has suggested Usyk may have been partly playing possum in these contests to lull AJ into complacency but the undefeated man himself says: ‘I am confident of beating Joshua even though he has a combination of factors. I know that as a London Olympic gold medallist, like myself, and a British world heavyweight champion he was made to be a superstar. But I have no nerves about fighting him. Why would I?

‘Yes, this is the biggest fight of my career. Yes, he is a big heavyweight. But I believe I will win. So do all my compatriots and followers, who know I will do everything to do so.

‘But this is not something to shout about in every corner. I am not predicting a knock-out. I am just looking forward to another victory. To be nervous would only make me weaker. I am calm. I have been watching his fights for a long time. And I have added some weight to my body.’

Usyk also hints at regarding Fury as being the superior heavyweight, saying: ‘Joshua has three big titles and as far as I know he is a boxer, not a body-builder (as the Gypsy King labels him). Fury makes jokes, says many things and in my opinion is the coolest.’

Usyk tends to judge most things as cool, or not, with observations such as: ‘It will be cool to face the crowd at Tottenham because I love boxing for a big audience. It will be cool to box in London again because I like it here and it is a lucky place for me.

‘Don’t talk to me about a rematch clause when I win. Back home we have a superstition that if you say too much you go bang, bang, flat as a pancake. Not cool. We also have a saying that if you rush into something you make people laugh at you. So I am not rushing into this fight showing my emotions. Calm is cool.’

That is also his word for the Ukrainian brothers Klitschko, Vitali and Wladimir, who dominated the heavyweight division for several years. Even though it comes with a caveat when he says: ‘When my dad initiated me into boxing he would wake me up to watch them on television. They are very cool guys who have done so much for boxing in our country but I am not a fan of their style.’

Usyk has also hinted at regarding Tyson Fury (right) as being the superior heavyweight

Usyk has also hinted at regarding Tyson Fury (right) as being the superior heavyweight

Of Usyk’s own style — one of the most technical, complex and hardest to fathom ever seen in the ring — he will not be drawn into comparisons which are less than flattering to Joshua in terms of pure skill.

Simply, he says: ‘That is for others to decide.’

Although he does find advantages for himself when adding: ‘There is more stress for him in having three titles to lose, defending at home, in front of his own people, knowing that this bad guy is coming to his country looking for a very big fight.

‘I know also that it will have been extremely difficult for him to find sparring partners to help him prepare for the way I box.’

That’s Usyk for you. A box of tricks. Daddy Cool.

Joshua v Usyk, Saturday night live on Sky Sports Box Office. 

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