Heavyweight great Evander Holyfield believes Anthony Joshua must make wholesale changes to defeat Oleksandr Usyk in their heavyweight title unification rematch this Saturday in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Holyfield, however, is not convinced that Joshua, who has been criticized for fighting timidly against Usyk, a career cruiserweight, can transform himself to such a drastic degree for the rematch. Critics have insisted that London’s Joshua needs to fight with a far more pedal-to-the-medal approach against the smaller, but highly skilled, southpaw Ukrainian.  

“The gut feeling is that if everyone fights their fight and fight like they’re accustomed to fighting, then I think Usyk will win,” Holyfield told BBC 5 Live Boxing during a fight week presser in Saudi Arabia. “I think that it will have to be a major change for Anthony. My whole thing is I think he likes being himself and being himself, he’s not a bully. ‘I like to chat with you all and all this.’”

Holyfield, like Usyk, started out as a cruiserweight to become a four-time heavyweight champion, albeit undersized by modern standards. The Alabaman was renowned for his jaw-dropping resilience inside the ring.

Holyfield believes it would behooves Joshua, whose physique resembles that of a Greek god, to let Usyk know from the get-go that he has no business dictating the pace as he did in the first meeting.

Usyk controlled the tempo of the first fight by using his deft footwork, feints, jabs, and snapping left hands. Joshua often appeared to be a bit befuddled by his opponent’s shrewdness

“He has to fight like the big guy fights,” Holyfield said of Joshua. “As a big guy you’re telling the little guy ‘aight, come up in here, if you come up in here you gonna get hit with these hammers.’ If Usyk stay back and he puts his weight on Usyk then it’s gonna be difficult for Usyk.

“That’s how a big guy [should] fight,” Holyfield added.