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Oleksandr Usyk Taps Into His Inner Cossack

Posted on 09/22/2021

By: Sean Crose

“Ukrainian Warrior,” heavyweight contender Oleksandr Usyk says of his new look -shaved head and fork shaped moustache – ahead of this weekend’s title about against Anthony Joshua, “Cossack.” Anyone with knowledge of eastern European history can attest to how imposing the Cossacks could be. With that in mind, it’s Joshua who is at least the more physically imposing of the two fighters. Unless Usyk shows some pop that’s been missing in his previous two heavyweight fights, it’s Joshua who will be the more physically powerful of the two as they enter the ring in England on Saturday.

Not that Usyk minds. Heck, the man’s even willing to admit Joshua is the far more popular fighter. “Even old ladies of our country know him,” the former undisputed cruiserweight king tells iFL TV. “I’m not superstar.” What Usyk is in the leadup to Saturday’s fight, however, is enigmatic – perhaps by design. “All life,” he says at one point, “it’s game.” Usyk’s life has been a rather successfully played game – at least up until this point. An undefeated fighter with a remarkable skill set, Usyk is nonetheless the underdog entering this weekend’s match

As a cruiserweight, the Ukrainian was known to be the source of a torrent of movement of punches. He frankly hasn’t brought the same style to heavyweight – at least not yet. Asked if he would have preferred waiting a few more fights before facing multititlist Joshua, Usyk appears at ease. “Everything comes from the Lord,” he says, “so I’m happy with what I have.” Usyk is even enough at ease to weigh in on Tuesday’s wild Canelo Alvarez-Caleb Plant press conference. “I don’t like it,” he says of the fighters throwing down before the assembled media. With that in mind, Usyk clearly wants to keep his sights on Joshua.

Holding the IBF, WBA, and WBO heavyweight titles, Joshua is known to be among the top three fighters in the division, alongside Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder. In fact, Fury has made it clear he wants Joshua to win on Saturday so that he can have a superfight with Joshua down the road. Usyk’s job this weekend is to essentially upset the apple cart. Whether or not the man can pull it off remains to be seen. One thing is certain, however: Joshua-Usyk is an intriguing matchup. Each man is going for broke this Saturday, which is what makes the matchup so fascinating.

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