Connor Benn is stunned to see Anthony Joshua make the magic man Oleksandr Usik make his world title disappear.
The 25-year-old welterweight ace was cheering the 31-year-old at Tottenham and abandoned his shocking game plan to outbox Ukraine’s talent.
Past and present, and pundits have drawn the tactics of 17th 2lb AJ and Rob McCracken to stay trim and out-skill the 34-year-old southpaw.
But Ben — nicknamed the Destroyer like his father — wants to help the old KO artist rebuild to his most devastating best for next year’s rematch.
He told IFL TV: “I don’t know what happened but I think the strategy and tactics were wrong. He gave room to a magician to perform the juggle.
“Usik is an incredible fighter, he is pound-for-pound at best, but for me, if there was ever a night for AJ to come heavy, it was the fight.
“He should have bullied her, thrashed her, told her that he was in the ring with a big heavyweight.
“He should have set the tone straight and let the three- and four-punch combinations tell him he was with a big boy.
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“But the fact is, you can’t hit what you can’t see and I told people, if it went beyond eight rounds, it was for anybody to win.
“The only way to beat Usyk is to stick to it, 1 million percent, I don’t think anyone is outboxing Usiq.
“It’s hard to believe that those tactics were working because AJ has the power, the speed, the skill, the boxing mind to go out there and beat him, slap him, hit him with fours and fours.”
Ben, the son of British ring legend Nigel, began his career on the undercard of AJ’s first world title win of 2016 over Charles Martin, so he has had a ringside seat for most of his pro career.
And he was deeply intrigued by Joshua’s casual way into the ring—for the biggest and most technical fight of his life—with fans greeting friends in the crowd.
Ben, a fast-learning game student under Tony Sims, was immediately concerned that while Usick was already plotting the ring, AJ’s arrival was like a victory lap.
‘Body language is everything’
He said: “I think body language is everything. And, personally, I felt that the ring-walk didn’t look right, it just looked different than the other ring walks.
“Even if he had won, I still think something is wrong.
“Walking in the same fight seemed like the victory lap he wanted later.
“Because AJ is so in tune with who he is, when he does something like a ring-walk win-lap, it gets your attention. I think body language is everything, I really do.”
Derek Chisora — who gave a big scare last Halloween in the first five rounds of his fight — spent time at AJ’s training camp defending his teammate’s shocking gameplan.
But Ben believes that Joshua should have let his 18th friend and former training partner be the architect of Usyak’s demise.
Can he do it again?
Ben said: “If it were me I’d use a weight gain, Chisora sketched out how you beat Usik, I thought she won that fight.
“I know Chisora is strong, he’ll sit and lean on someone — and maybe AJ wants to be a boxer-puncher — but AJ, in his short career, was a better finisher, he had killer instincts.
“It will be interesting to see what happens in the rematch, what happens with the weight, his mindset, the ring-walk.
“AJ did what he had to do for the Andy Ruiz rematch, it wasn’t necessarily the most entertaining fight, but he did what he had to do and hopefully he can do it again.”
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