OLEKSANDR USYK has been piling on the pounds in preparation for heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua.
The former undisputed cruiserweight king faces AJ – the who has the WBA, IBF and WBO unified belts – on September 25 at Tottenham’s stadium.
It will be his third fight at heavyweight, having beat Chazz Witherspoon, 39, on his divisional debut in 2019, and then Derek Chisora, 37, a year later.
Since beating Chisora over 12 rounds, Usyk, 34, has been bulking up and recently scaled 16st 4lb in an online video.
That is still almost a stone lighter than AJ, who weighed in at 17st 2lb for his last win against Kubrat Pulev, 40, in December 2019.
Promoter Eddie Hearn told talkSPORT: “I think that Usyk will never be a fully fledged heavyweight – a real heavyweight in terms of size.
“But what he will always have is a huge amount of skill.
“It takes time for people to bed into heavyweight, so put it this way, it would’ve been a lot easier fight for AJ a year-and-a-half ago.
‘AJ’S A DIFFERENT KIND OF BEAST’
“Now Usyk has fought a real heavyweight contender in Chisora, that will actually help him to start to understand what needs to be done.
“But AJ’s a different kind of beast. A good big guy will always beat a good small guy, so we’ll see.”
Joshua, 31, was only ordered to fight Usyk by the WBO after his all-British unification bout with Tyson Fury collapsed.
Fury, 32, was instead made to face Deontay Wilder, 35, once again after the American won his right to a trilogy bout in arbitration.
It leaves AJ waiting even longer for his shot at heavyweight supremacy, but he warned Usyk poses just as much of a threat as anyone else.
He said to Sky Sports: “I’ve got another challenger who’s good, just as good. I have to be serious about him now.
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“He will definitely step up, he will definitely take the fight. That’s what I need – people that are serious.
“I would have loved to have boxed for the undisputed championship because it was a big fight for the public. We had everything set up.
“I have to move forward and not keep dwelling.”