Ahead of their rematch, Oleksandr Usyk believes he has brought in the perfect sparring partner for his second fight with Anthony Joshua. WBA, IBF, and WBO heavyweight champion Usyk has chosen Congolese heavyweight Martin Bakole to join him once again in his training camp.

Bakole previously helped Usyk prepare for his first fight with Joshua in September and received high praise from the Ukrainian’s camp.

“I was contacted during the week regarding Martin sparring again,” Bakole’s trainer Billy Nelson told Sky Sports. “I knew that was going to happen anyway because they were super happy with him on the first occasion, I think Martin gave them the best sparring he’s had. Usyk and his team respect his skill to the extent that one of his team said Martin will become a world champion in the not-too-distant future.”

Bakole, who has regularly been used by Joshua as one of his main sparring partners, is the same height as AJ at 6ft 6ins, and according to his trainer has a better skill set as well.

“I’d say Martin’s skill set is better than Anthony Joshua’s,” said Nelson. “Joshua probably punches harder than Martin, but Martin’s output is much higher along with his variety of punches.”

However, contracts have yet to be signed, and the official date is expected to be announced this week. Promoter Eddie Hearn recently told the DAZN Boxing Show: “July 23 in the Middle East is the frontrunner. We’re almost out of time for that date if we don’t get the deal done this week. I’m hoping we can give you two big pieces of news this week.

“That will be Canelo Alvarez’s next fight and Anthony Joshua’s next fight – two of the biggest stars of the sport. The date of the fight and the time to train are not the problems, it is more about the extra obligations of TV, press conferences and promotion.

“Eight weeks out feels OK but once you get down to seven and six, it’s a problem. Both fighters know that if we have to do a media tour then it needs to happen in the next 10-14 days. “Beyond that, we will have to move it back a week or two.”