CONOR BENN was stunned to see Anthony Joshua let magic man Oleksandr Usyk make his world titles disappear.
The 25-year-old welterweight ace was ringside at Tottenham cheering on the 31-year-old and gutted his shock game plan to outbox the Ukraine genius fell short.
A fair few fighters, past and present, and pundits have hammered 17st 2lb AJ and Rob McCracken’s strategy to stay trim and out-skill the 34-year-old southpaw.
But Benn – nicknamed the Destroyer – wants to help rebuild the old KO artist back to his most devastating best for the must-win rematch next year.
He told iFL: “I don’t know what happened but I just think the strategy and tactics were wrong. He gave a magician room to perform tricks.
“Usyk is an unbelievable fighter, he is up as a pound-for-pound best but, for me, if there was ever a night for AJ to come in heavy then that fight was the case.
“He should have bullied him, manhandled him, let him know that he was in the ring with a big heavyweight.
“He should have set the tone straight away and let three and four-punch combinations go, let him know he was in with a big boy.
"But the fact is you cannot hit what you cannot see and I told people, if it went past eight rounds, it was anyone’s to win.
“The only way to beat Usyk is to stick it on him, 1million per cent, I don’t believe anybody is outboxing Usyk.
“It’s hard to believe that those were the tactics going in because AJ has the power, the speed, the skillset, the boxing brain to go in there and beat him up, manhandle him, punch-him-up with threes and fours.”
Benn, son of British ring legend Nigel, started his career on the undercard of AJ’s 2016 first world title win over Charles Martin, so he has had a ringside seat for most of his pro career.
And he was deeply concerned by the casual way Joshua walked to the ring – for the biggest and most technical fight of his life – bumping fists with fans greeting friends in the crowd.
Benn, a student of the game learning rapidly under Tony Sims, was immediately worried that while Usyk was already in the ring plotting, AJ’s arrival was too much like a victory lap.
'BODY LANGUAGE IS EVERYTHING'
He said: “I think body language is everything. And, personally, I felt that things didn’t look right in the ring-walk, it just looked off compared to other ring walks.
“Even if he had won, I would have felt something looked off.
"The walk into the Usyk fight looked like the victory lap he would have wanted afterwards.
“Because AJ is so consistent with who he is, when he does something off, like the ring-walk-victory-lap, it does catch your attention. I think body language is everything, I really do.”
Derek Chisora – who gave Usyk a major scare last Halloween in the first five rounds of their fight – spent time in AJ’s training camp and has defended his mate's baffling gameplan.
But Benn reckons Joshua should have let his 18st friend and former training partner be the architect of Usyk’s demise.
Benn added: “If it was me I would have used a weight advantage, Chisora drew the blueprint for how you beat Usyk, I felt he won that fight.
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“I know Chisora is robust, he will sit and lean on someone – and maybe AJ wants to be more of a boxer-puncher – but AJ, in his younger career, was a better finisher, he had the killer instinct.
“It will be interesting to see what happens in the rematch, what happens with the weight, his mindset, the ring-walk.
“For the Andy Ruiz rematch AJ did what he had to do to win, 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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