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April 04, 2017

By G. Leon

GL: After learning that James Ali Bashear was no longer the head coach of Oleksandr Usyk, I spoke with Bob Arum and he told me that Usyk would be trained by Anatoly Lomachenko. Then I spoke with Egis Klimas and he informed me that you were the head coach, how did this all come about? How is everything going in preparation for Michael Hunter on April 8? I think Greg, you have to clarify that a little bit. Bob is partially correct on this as Anatoly has played a great role in the training of Usyk for this training camp and then you're also partly correct by saying that I was brought in to help as well. I really can't say that I've assumed the head position, nor do I want to say that because Anatoly has laid out the game plan and the training program and I was just there to support it and help out with the technical aspects and the sparring, but you know all of the planning and non gym work as well was laid out by Anatoly and I'm just complimenting everything that Anatoly laid out.

GL: How has everything gone in preparation for Hunter and what are your thoughts of him as a boxer?

Russ Anber: "I think he's an extremely good fighter with a dangerous style and I certainly think he's somebody that we're respecting very much. I think he's going to be a difficult fight, I think he's going to make for a difficult fight. I think he's got great skills, solid fundamentals and he's well schooled. I don't think this is going to be an easy fight for either guy, but it's a fight that could have its moments or maybe be a purists type fight. I think both guys have great skills and are going to use them. Michael Hunter is certainly no easy task."

GL: Usyk is a very accomplished amateur boxer who has gotten off to a fantastic start as a professional. When I spoke to him he told me his last several camps were pretty much the same thing over and over and he wasn't learning anything new. What kind of refinements have been made during this camp? What new things do you think he's learned in this camp?

RA: "I can't compare the two because I was not involved in any of the previous camps. I think that's something you're going to have to talk to Usyk about after the fight. Let's see how this goes and talk to him after the fight. It's not fair for me to say because I wasn't there before, so anything I tell you would be purely hypothetical and I certainly don't want to do that. James Bashear brought him to a world title and trained him to that and I think that speaks for itself. I don't think it's fair for me to make comparisons on things I've never seen before."

GL: What kind of improvements do you still think Usyk has to make?

RA: "I don't know, I think every fighter also can improve things. There are very few who have every aspect of the sport down, so whether it's Usyk or anybody else, the important thing that you can't learn and you have to have is experience. I think that being in with great fighters with great fights in great venues on great platforms gives you that experience. I think that's something that Usyk definitely needs, experience on the big stage. He's only got 11 pro fights and he's already world champion. I think experience in and of itself is going to make him a better fighter and then down the road there's always little things that can be worked on. I think those things will tell in the future and after this fight as well, we're going to be able to determine what he's got to work on. But I think if he keeps progressing at this rate the experience itself will become his best teacher."

GL: Does the recent rejuvenation of the heavyweight division make you want to see Usyk make the move up in weight sooner rather than later? Usyk has expressed interest in unifying at cruiserweight before making that move, but do you think he should make the move sooner rather than later?

RA: "I don't know, I'll need to be around him a little bit more to see how he progresses. If he moved up now let's look at all of the champions, Wilder's almost at 40 pro-fights and Joshua and Parker has a lot more fights as well. Usyk is sitting there with 11 fights and I think experience is a key thing here, I think that's something that should be discussed more with Egis than me, but moving up, other opponents and things he should think about are all on the back-burner because right now the only thing we're focusing on is Michael Hunter on April 8."

GL: Is there anything you'd like to say in closing?

RA: "I think Usyk emerged from the Olympics as a guy you could see a future in with incredible talent and I'm hoping he gets to show that in the pro game. More importantly I hope that people get to know the Oleksandr Usyk that I got to spend time with. He's a great guy with a great personality and just a great all around human being. I think he brings all of that to the ring with him and more and to me he's what boxing needs, a lot like Lomachenko in terms of no talk and all action, instead of what we're used to seeing with all talk and no action."

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