Johnny Nelson has told Anthony Joshua that he must go back to being ‘the old AJ’ if he hopes to beat Oleksandr Usyk on August 20. Nelson has challenged Joshua to fight with the same ruthless aggression that guided him to victory over Dillian Whyte in 2015 and believes that a loss against the Ukrainian will be catastrophic for the way he is remembered in years to come.
Joshua knocked out Whyte in the seventh round of their domestic showdown to capture the vacant British heavyweight title and retain his Commonwealth strap. During the contest, Joshua walked down his rival with a barrage of power punches from the off – nearly stopping ‘The Body Snatcher’ in the opening round.
Despite being out on his feet momentarily in the second, ‘AJ’ dug deep and battled back as he scrambled Whyte’s senses with a vicious right hook in the seventh round which led to the eventual stoppage after a few more clean blows were landed. This is the type of fight Nelson believes will favour Joshua; one in which he is forced to dig deep and make use of size, strength and athleticism.
Speaking to Sky Sports, Nelson urged Joshua to revert back to ‘throwing the kitchen sink’ at Usyk the same way he did against Whyte seven years ago.
He said: “He’s got to throw the kitchen sink at him. The old AJ that got in there and boxed Dillian Whyte with that rugged rough edge about him, that’s the mentality he wants to bring, he needs to bring the intelligence with it, but that’s the mentality he wants to bring.
“Use his natural size, his natural weight, his natural punch power, he’s knocked out 22 of his opponents. You know he’s got the strength, you know he’s got the power.”
When Joshua was defeated by Usyk in their first encounter back in September, he was heavily criticised for being too ‘timid’. Usyk out landed Joshua by 148 to 123 in total punch connections and made contact with the far more meaningful blows. But despite being comfortably outpointed by ‘The Cat’, ‘AJ’ left visible damage on the face of his opponent which is a testament to the Watford boxer’s power.
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“If you look after the fight and you look at the state of Usyk, especially seeing how he beat him, almost stopping him, Usyk’s face was in a state and that’s when Anthony Joshua boxed bad,” Nelson continued.
“He knows he boxed bad, he knows he chose the wrong tactics, he knows he went in there with the wrong mentality. Now he’s been given that chance to do it again, he needs this win more than Oleksandr Usyk does because to prove to the world to say, ‘I’m not a flash in a pan, I’m actually the real deal’.
“This is that fight, this is that chance to become a three-time heavyweight champion of the world and so he’s changed his team behind him, he’s made some bold decisions, he’s gone out there to Saudi to set up camp now to be comfortable in the surroundings. He’s done everything asked of him. Now it’s about mindset, mentality, how he’s going to go about this fight.”