By Chris McKenna, courtesy of The Daily Star
OLEKSANDR USYK is not a man of many words but he only needed one to make it clear who he wants to fight next year.
The undisputed cruiserweight king takes on Tony Bellew this weekend in Manchester.
But he has plans to move up to heavyweight in the next 12 months having already conquered his current division.
And when asked if he wants to face WBO, WBA, IBO and IBF heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua next year, the answer was simple.
“Tak,” the Ukrainian said in his native language which of course means “yes” if there was any doubt.
How will it go was the next question and again the answer was simple.
“Great”. Presumably he meant for him.
“Nobody has promised me the fight but it is going to happen,” he added.
First he must beat Bellew, who he admits is his toughest fight to date which is some compliment for the Liverpool fighter.
Usyk, 31, is one of the best boxers on the planet with Olympic, world and European gold to his name as an amateur.
It took him only 15 professional fights to collect all four major belts – the WBO, WBA, IBF and WBA – since he changed codes.
Along with his fellow Ukrainian and three-weight world champion Vasyl Lomachenko, they could claim the two very best in the world come from one country.
He trains on the outskirts of Kiev in the wilderness where he sleeps on a straw bed and spends his time outside of the gym fishing and catching mice that sneak into the spartan living conditions.
Usyk trains his body but also his mind with concentration exercises given almost as much time as punching sessions.
He celebrates wins with traditional Cossack dancing rather than trash talking.
The Ukrainian is not your average boxer that is for sure but his extraordinary abilities in the ring are what makes him stand out.
That has led to Bellew heaping praise on his foe for tomorrow night which, for anyone who knows the Liverpool man, is also rather rare.
But Usyk is not falling into a false sense of security by being putting on a pedestal by Bellew.
In fact, he is happy to hit back at Bellew’s warning that he will “learn how to lose” at Manchester Arena tomorrow night.
“I don’t look in his eyes, I look between his eyes,” said Usyk.
“What do I see? I see what a sniper sees when he looks through the scope. I see the target to where I have to put my bullet.”
The southpaw stylist won his European gold in Liverpool and became Olympic champion at London 2012 but now he looks for success in Manchester.
“I'm as glad as a small kid who received a Kinder Surprise,” he added.
It is those in the audience that are in for a treat though.