Anthony Joshua has stated that Oleksandr Usyk ranks as the second toughest opponent of his career behind Wladimir Klitschko.
The Briton will defend his IBF, WBO and WBA (Super) heavyweight titles against the undefeated Usyk at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on 25 September.
Like Joshua, Usyk is a 2012 Olympic gold medallist and is regarded as one of the most skilled fighters of his generation.
The Ukrainian dominated the cruiserweight division before up to heavyweight two years ago, recording wins over Chazz Witherspoon and Dereck Chisora before getting his shot at world title gold.
In assessing his toughest challenges to date, Joshua picks just one fighter ahead of his next opponent – the legendary Klitschko who he went to war with in 2017.
Speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live, Joshua said of Usyk: ‘On paper he sits No.2, behind Wladimir Klitschko.
‘They’re very different technically, but on paper he’s an Olympic gold medallist, he reigned for over 10 years, he’s No.1.
‘But Usyk is No.2 because of his success at cruiserweight and then his success so far at heavyweight.’
Joshua added: ‘One of his strengths is that he’s getting in the ring with me. I’ve got to give him credit for that, it’s going to be tough.
‘He’s a southpaw, he’s been fighting orthodoxes his whole life, we fight southpaws once in a blue moon.
‘I’m doing a lot of ring work, certain fighters do a lot of road works, pads, bags, shadow boxing.
‘But with a southpaw it’s all to do with positioning and we’re doing ring work, a lot of southpaws are counterpunchers.’