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Oleksandr Usyk 'super-impressed' with Martin Bakole who has imitated Anthony Joshua's explosive skills in sparring

"One hundred per cent it's a wise move by Usyk's people to use Martin Bakole as a sparring partner," trainer Billy Nelson says Congolese heavyweight can prepare the Ukrainian for an explosive encounter with Anthony Joshua

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Watch one of Martin Bakole's destructive KO wins

Oleksandr Usyk is "super-impressed" with Martin Bakole who has sharpened the Ukrainian's supreme skills in sparring, says the Congolese heavyweight's trainer.

Usyk is edging closer to a world heavyweight title fight against Joshua on September 25, live on Sky Sports Box Office, and has brought in Bakole to imitate the British star's explosive skills.

Bakole knows Joshua well, having sparred numerous rounds with the WBA, IBF and WBO champion, but he could not turn down an invite to trade punches with the former undisputed cruiserweight king.

Anthony Joshua
Image: Anthony Joshua defends his world titles against Usyk, live on Sky Sports Box Office

"I was approached by Team Usyk at the beginning of August, or late July," Bakole's trainer Billy Nelson told Sky Sports.

"Martin has been there for a week and a half and he's got a further two and half weeks. Then he comes to Dubai on September 4 for his fight. He's got an eight-round contest in Dubai on September 18.

"Usyk's team have been super-impressed with Martin out there. They've actually asked him to stay on a further week, including the four that he's doing. That's not possible due to the fight that he's got here.

Martin Bakole, Oleksandr Usyk
Image: Bakole was asked to extend his sparring trip to Oleksandr Usyk's camp in Kiev

"Martin says he's done particularly well in the spars that he's had. Martin is very complimentary about Usyk. He says he's very skilful. He's not made any comparisons between the two [Usyk and Joshua].

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"It's just unfortunate that Usyk is a southpaw, or we could have been helping Anthony Joshua. It's just one of those things.

"But when top-quality sparring comes up, Martin is not in a position to refuse it, because he's been inactive and he needs the sparring for his upcoming fight."

Nelson believes Bakole, with his similar stature and well-schooled skills, could be ideal preparation for Usyk's impending clash with Joshua.

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Bakole broke Kevin Johnson's resistance in another KO win

"One hundred per cent it's a wise move by Usyk's people to use Martin Bakole as a sparring partner, because he's got a fantastic jab," said Nelson.

"Same height, good reach, and he's got a very good skillset himself.

"Very wise move by Usyk's people indeed."

An impressive points victory over Sergey Kuzmin appeared to have positioned Bakole for a big-name bout this year, but travel restrictions due to Covid-19 have stalled his progress.

Martin Bakole
Image: Bakole has been inactive since a career-best win over Sergey Kuzmin in December

Nelson is hopeful Bakole can boost his ranking with a defence of the WBC international belt before taking a sizeable step towards a world title fight.

"We've been inactive since December, mainly because Martin is in a red-list country," he said.

"It's very difficult to get him out. It's looking a lot brighter now. We're hoping to receive a full three-year UK visa next week for him.

"After this warm-up fight on September 18, we'll be defending the title before the end of the year and maybe a top-10 opponent before the end of the year.

"Hopefully before the year is out, he'll be in a good position and next year will be a big, big year for Martin Bakole."

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