Anthony Joshua says it's sink or swim time for Oleksandr Usyk after the Ukrainian jumped in the deep end with one of the heavyweight giants.
And the WBO, IBF and WBA champion warned his rival he could struggle to keep his head above water this weekend.
Joshua, 31, takes on the former undisputed cruiserweight champion at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Saturday night.
The 6ft 6in Joshua will tip the scales at over 17st this week while Usyk, at 6ft 3in, has never weighed above 15st 8lb as a professional.
It will be just the third fight in the division for Usyk with the super-skilled southpaw written off by some against the big boys at heavyweight.
Joshua said: “He’s jumping in at the deep end early on. But good luck to him, he must believe in himself.
“He wants to be at the top end early.
“It’s better to swim deep – get in there and get on with it – rather than tread water.
“You could still end up drowning anyway. You could still get caught in a current and drown.
“You might as well jump in the deep end and try to survive.
“Advantages physically is one thing, but it doesn’t make the world’s tallest man heavyweight champion of the world, you know what I mean?
“He’s confident, his team are confident but what it is with a lot of people, I feel like it’s easy to watch on YouTube and watch from the outside.
“When you are in front of someone it’s a completely different ball game.”
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Joshua is the favourite but this is a serious challenge. Usyk won't be deterred by the size difference and is a fellow Olympic gold medallist.
It is a huge stumbling block for 'AJ' as he bids to secure an undisputed clash with WBC champion Tyson Fury next year.
But, while the result is nowhere near a guarantee this weekend, nor is the likelihood of a deal with the Gypsy King, even if he beats Deontay Wilder next month.
“I was wondering about legacy and where boxing was years ago when I watched like 10 fights that happened years ago and, massive, you know, the 1950s and stuff.
“I was thinking about the differences with those guys that actually fought each other, that made them great.
“In this day and age it’s who speaks the most, who generates the most interest from speaking.
“So it’s a different area of boxing, speaking is just as important as fighting these days. For me, I just fight these guys, no problem.”
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Joshua may not be fighting Fury in a £200m super fight but he is still big business in the sport.
He will earn in the region of £15m for this weekend's clash having sold out the home of Spurs with over 1m expected to buy the bout on pay-per-view, too.
While he remains the biggest attraction for sponsors in the sport while growing his own businesses, including the management group 258.
“My battle as a fighter wasn’t only to win in the ring,” he said.
“I found that easier than the battle outside the ring. Early on I spent a lot of time understanding the climate and promotion.
“There was a fighter years ago, Jim Corbett, who understood the power of PR. Fighters today understand you have to be self promoters.
“Muhammad Ali showed us the importance of self promotion. So I understood that, I understood big corporate companies, and the power they have… it’s phenomenal the power of these big brands and what it does for boxing in general.
“At the start it was so, so difficult.
“What I’ve done is get a trusted team around me.
“If they f*** me, they won’t wake up the next morning, so good luck to them. So far so good, they’re still breathing. I’m not in jail. We’re all happy. Everything’s fine.
“What I’ve done is I’ve stepped back. I need to focus on boxing and winning.
“It’s very difficult in boxing to improve 1 or 2 per cent – you have to spend like six to eight months working tirelessly at your craft.
“To do it at the top level is really difficult. I went through the difficulties early on, put solid foundations in place, so now I can fully focus on my boxing.”
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But how long is left for Joshua as he heads into his 26th professional outing?
“You’ve got 36 to 40,” he added.
“36 is kind of like, How many years do you go beyond that? Do you do the full lot to 40?
“That’s where Floyd Mayweather went, Alexander Povetkin, Wladimir Klitschko, guys in my generation.
“Manny Pacquiao went a bit further. 40 seems like the age where they’re like, 'Okay, you’ve done this for along time now, champ'.
“36 to 40 is when I start making decisions in terms of what I do with my career. I turn 32 in October so I’ve still got some good years ahead of me.”
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