VERY few will have experienced the headache of trying to figure out Oleksandr Usyk’s masterful southpaw style.
Even fewer can claim to have also shared the ring with Anthony Joshua, the man Usyk beat in September.
But British heavyweight prospect Fabio Wardley is in the unique position of having sparred the pair.
Joshua, 32, gets his shot at revenge by rematching Usyk, 35, on August 20 in Saudi Arabia.
And Wardley, 27, urged countryman AJ to put on a throwback performance and bash the titles out of Usyk’s hands.
He told SunSport: “He has to go back to being old AJ. I think he has to accept that he’s not going to outbox Usyk.
“He has to accept that he’s not going to beat him on points in terms of punch-output, land-output. He’s not going to do those things.
“He needs to go back to the old AJ, who just comes at you, big, strong and sticks it on you. And when he hits you, it hurts.”
Joshua reformed himself from 6ft 6in powerhouse to a box-and-mover after losing to Andy Ruiz Jr, 32, in 2019.
So when Wardley sparred the 2012 Olympic champion in 2020 before AJ knocked out Kubrat Pulev, 41, he experienced the all-new version.
He said: “I sparred him in the build up, coincidentally, to his fight with Pulev. So I met kind of the newer AJ.
“I feel like he needs to go back to that older AJ that when he sticks anything on you, whether it’s a jab, a right hand, anything, it hits home and hurts.”
Wardley was in 2018 drafted in for sparring by Usyk before he knocked out cruiserweight Tony Bellew, now 39.
That night the Ukrainian retained his undisputed world title crown and he has only gone on to improve at heavyweight.
So it leaves Wardley admitting Joshua’s path to victory is much easier said then done.
He added: “The right word is a nightmare. He’s so switched on in ways you can’t even sometimes comprehend.
“Just small, little foot movements, a hand adjustment, a head adjustment, a twist of the shoulder.
“Anything, and it makes you think, ‘Oh, he’s going. Oh, he’s not’. Your brains is just go, go, go.
“There’s a lot there. It’s difficult to kind of keep up and keep pace in the ring. But it’s a great learning curve.”