ANTHONY JOSHUA has been warned Oleksandr Usyk hits hard enough to end his second reign as unified heavyweight champion.
Usyk’s power at heavyweight was questioned following his decision victory over Dereck Chisora last November, but former foe Tony Bellew insists the Ukrainian southpaw packs a hefty enough punch to derail an undisputed title fight between AJ and Tyson Fury.
During an appearance on The DAZN Boxing Show, The Bomber said: “Believe you me mate, he hits hard enough to send me down.
“He’s exceptional. He’s the best I ever faced. He is so technically perfect. His footwork is on another level.”
The retired Bellew was knocked out by Usyk in October 2019 in what proved to be his final outing to the ring.
The Scouser said of his loss: “Sometimes you’ve just got to hold your hands up and say, ‘I lost to the better guy’.
“He is better than me. He is fantastic, phenomenally gifted in everything that he does.”
Usyk is set to train with Vasily Lomachenko’s dad, Anatoly, ahead of his bid to become a two-division world champion.
Bellew reckons the reunion will make Joshua’s night that much harder, telling talkSPORT: “It’s a hard fight, I’m not gonna lie. It’s a very, very hard fight.
“If anything, it’s just got even harder because Usyk has now gone back with Lomachenko’s father.
“That makes it even harder because they will create a game plan that is gonna try and negate everything good that Anthony Joshua does.
Believe you me mate, he hits hard enough to send me down
Tony Bellew on Oleksandr Usyk
“They’re gonna try and take everything away from him.
“That’s what Usyk does so well. He takes away your strengths before he looks at implementing his own strengths.
“And by taking away your strengths, you’re lost. The things he does with his feet – he’s exceptional.
“So I think it’s a really hard fight, I think it’s really dangerous.”
But the former WBC cruiserweight champion is confident the Brit will get the better of The Cat.
He added: “I think Anthony Joshua will be down on points when he catches up with him. I think he will catch up with him between rounds six and ten – I really do.
“I just think the size is too much, I just think the speed and the power will be too much.
“The thing about Anthony Joshua is he’s now becoming a student of the game.
“He’s putting in extra time, studying. He’s watching the old school fighters.
“He’s a consummate professional, the best-conditioned heavyweight in the world.
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“Physically, I would say the best athlete the heavyweight division has seen in 20 years. Without a shadow of a doubt.
“All he needs to click up on now is his actual boxing IQ and that’s getting better and better.
“He’s gonna have to implement speed and force against Usyk. There is no other way around it. There’s no easy way to beat this guy.”