An eccentric genius who trains in his underpants with the power to dethrone Anthony Joshua – that’s the Dave Allen verdict on Oleksandr Usyk ahead of Saturday night’s heavyweight superfight in London.
Former cruiserweight king Usyk (18-0 with 13 wins inside distance) challenges for Joshua’s IBF, WBA and WBO world titles in front of 65,000 fans at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium (live on Sky Sports Box Office in the UK, and DAZN in the United States).
Popular British heavyweight Allen knows plenty about the charismatic Ukrainian – he sparred him last year when Usyk was preparing for his showdown with Dereck Chisora. It was quite an experience for the Yorkshireman.
Usyk a gentleman and an eccentric
He told Sky Sports Boxing: “First of all he’s a gentlemen, cos the second thing I’m gonna say is he trains in his underpants. He’s eccentric, he’s different, but he’s such a nice fella. He runs round the gym in his underpants, I think they were Christmas underpants, with like his protector on and his vest.
“He would spar and then he would do maths equations while hitting the bag. I was a little bit confused, I was trying to take it all in.
"He would spar, then do maths equations whilst hitting the bag!" 😳
Heavyweight Dave Allen has sparred with Oleksandr Usyk and has described him as exceptionally good and an eccentric.
— Sky Sports Boxing (@SkySportsBoxing) September 23, 2021
“But one thing he does do that all champions do, he works really hard – exceptionally hard. We would spar, and he would carry on for at least an hour, maybe two hours, afterwards. Doing maths equations, hitting the bag, shadow boxing, juggling, all sorts of mad things. It was a real experience.”
After their sparring, Allen shared some of the footage – including one clip where he is clearly wobbled and dazed by a power shot from Usyk. The clip went viral, and as Allen says throws doubt on the theory that Usyk may not have the power to trouble Joshua.
Usyk has the power
“He’s exceptionally good. I shared the footage and people asked me ‘why did you share the footage?’ and I said ‘the man’s a genius’. I’ve no shame in that, he’s one of the best fighters on the planet. He’s exceptional – his angles, his speed, his power.
“I like to think that I’ve got one of the best chins in heavyweight boxing. The next thing I remember after that sparring, I was stood with nothing but a pair of pants on socks on and I was packing my gym bag. I looked up and forty minutes had gone by. I did the first four rounds and the other eight rounds had gone and I was packing my bag. I looked up and said ‘what’s happened here?’, I was panicking.
“Of course he’s got power, he’s a 15-and-a-half-stone man with exceptional speed. He can work the angles, the man can do it all. This fight on Saturday, I’ve not been as excited for a fight probably ever in my whole lifetime. This is such an exceptional fight, I can’t wait for it.”