Oleksandr Usyk has returned to his past to embrace his future
When dealing with the sport of boxing, it’s easy to focus solely on the fighters. They are the ones who get in the ring, take the punches, bleed and live with the consequences. At the same time however, their chief second is almost always an integral component of the team. The lead coach devises the overall strategy, guides the training camp and acts as a general in the corner. Knowing the importance of a superior coach, former undisputed cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk (18-0, 13 KO’s) is making a change.
Ahead of his upcoming September 25 prizefight with WBA Super, WBA and IBF world heavyweight champion Anthony “AJ” Joshua (24-1, 22 KO’s), Usyk is linking up with Anatoly Lomachenko. Usyk was being trained by Yuri Tkachenko, but no longer. Anatoly Lomachenko, who is the father of and chief second for Vasiliy Lomachenko, was Usyk’s amateur boxing mentor. Now the two are reuniting to get prepared for the biggest fight of the Ukrainian’s professional career.
A FAMILY AFFAIR
Only time will tell if this adjustment will make a significant difference. While there is no question that a superb trainer can make sweeping improvements, time is still needed. Normally a fighter and trainer must gel for a number of fights before the machinations of the gym are properly translated into a real scrap. Nevertheless, Top Rank promoter Bob Arum believes that the new addition is likely to spell trouble to Joshua.
Arum does not promote Usyk but he does push Vasiliy Lomachenko, who just happens to be best friends with Usyk. Through Lomachenko, Arum has gotten the chance to see the heavyweight up close and behind the scenes. He has even taken account of how much like family Usyk and the Lomachenko’s act with one another. As he told to Sky Sports, Arum believes this cohesion is the key to the whole partnership.
“Let me caution you something, because even though I don’t promote him, I consider him a really good friend and that’s Oleksandr Usyk. The reason I know him so well is he is the best friend of Vasiliy Lomachenko. ‘Egis Klimas, who is the manager of both, I talk with him and he has talked with the father of Lomachenko, who he calls “Papa Lomachenko”, who was the trainer of all these Ukrainian Olympians.”
“And he’s agreed to properly train Usyk for this fight. I’m telling you, don’t think that Joshua is in a cake walk. He has a really tough fight with Usyk, who is a terrific boxer. His father wouldn’t train anyone else, but he will train Usyk because Usyk is like family.”
By: Bakari Simpson