Anthony Joshua showed “serious intentions” by arriving in Saudi Arabia early as he prepares to test Oleksandr Usyk with a destructive early assault, says Johnny Nelson.
Joshua is set to face Usyk on August 20 for the IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight titles following the Ukrainian’s unanimous decision victory in London last September.
A month away from the fight, images have appeared on social media of the two-time world champion training in Jeddah.
“It’s a good sign,” Nelson said sky sports. “He wants to acclimatize, get used to the heat, get used to his surroundings, make it second nature, a second home to himself, which is a good sign.”
Nelson compared Joshua’s early arrival to that of heavyweight great Muhammad Ali, who arrived in Zaire months before defeating George Foreman in The Rumble in the Jungle in 1974.
“I remember when Ali did it when he was fighting George Foreman in the jungle, he was there longer than he expected,” Nelson said.
“I think this one here, AJ went there thinking he had to get it right. I’m sure he took his team, his sparring partners out there.
“It’s the best thing to do, just to get used to the heat. He has to do everything in his favor, and I like the thinking behind it.
“We can read into so much, but it shows serious intentions, he’s there on business, which is a must.”
“The two fighters will change tactics”
Nelson believes the advantages gained from Joshua’s early arrival will be crucial as the second fight could be decided by narrow margins.
“It’s not impossible to ask AJ for the win,” Nelson continued. “He has the ability, he has the tools to do it. He just has to make sure he chooses the right tactic.
“Both fighters had the grace of sharing the ring and knowing what each other’s strengths and weaknesses are. Usyk might think about putting the pressure on a little earlier because he almost knocked AJ out in the first AJ might think about playing Usyk at His own game and putting Usyk under pressure, going for it all.
“Neither man is going to go in there with the same tactic they used in the first place, because for Usyk he wants to make sure, he wants to be clear after the first fight has gone away. .
“For AJ, he’ll want to go in there and get him out of there because he knows as the fight goes on Usyk is the favorite. He just can’t afford to let this man feel comfortable. in his presence, in his environment, in his company.”
“Garcia can bring the spirit of the game”
The biggest change for Joshua ahead of the fight is the addition of experienced trainer Robert Garcia to his practice squad.
Nelson thinks the most important changes Garcia can implement are mental, as opposed to technical.
“He (Garcia) is going to bring a new mindset,” Nelson said.
“AJ is a sportsman – he’s polite, he’s a gentleman, but he has to bring a new mindset and a sense of the game when he steps into the ring.
“He can’t go there with the same attitude he had the first time, or he loses – it’s simple. The mentality has to be completely different. He has to go there with a completely positive and confident mentality.
“AJ understands how tough this fight is, he understands what’s at stake and if he doesn’t change anything, why would he expect different results?”
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