Don Charles expects the presence of James Ali Bashir in Wroclaw to gradually get under Oleksandr Usyk’s skin.
Daniel Dubois’ new trainer recruited the American to assist with their preparations for Saturday’s IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight title fight at Stadion Wroclaw in Poland, aware that he was Usyk’s trainer for three years.
Bashir also long served as the assistant to the late, great Emanuel Steward – a figure Charles had the utmost respect for – and ahead of his first fight as the 25-year-old Dubois’ trainer, Charles believes that his experience and knowledge of Usyk can give them a competitive edge.
“Let’s not make it all about Usyk,” said the trainer, who previously guided Derek Chisora into fights for the WBC title against Tyson Fury and Vitali Klitschko respectively last December and in 2012. “Even if he hadn’t trained Usyk, the information, and the way this man delivers it – I respect the journey.
“He [also] hasn’t sugarcoated it. ‘You’re meeting an elite fighter who’s mentally strong.’ He’s not selling us a fool’s dream – he’s been real from day one.
“Even if he doesn’t show it, inside, [Usyk] will not be a happy man [about Bashir’s involvement]. He will not sleep well. He’s a human being. He might not show that he’s bothered – he’s going to pretend he’s not bothered – he will have sleepless nights. ‘What has he told him?’ That’s his coach for three years – he won his first professional title with this man.”
The fight against the 36-year-old Usyk comes not only after Dubois’ unexpected split from his previous trainer Shane McGuigan, but with Charles and Bashir already familiar off the back of the abandoned fight between Chisora and Wladimir Klitschko in 2010.
“I’m a strong believer in the universe,” Charles explained. “I always lean towards the universe. This was meant to be. I met Mr Bashir when I was in opposition to Wladimir Klitschko. He was very pleasant; friendly.
“We’ve got mutual friends – the internet’s a wonderful thing – EJ, who's constantly in touch with Mr Bashir. ‘You know he used to train Usyk.’ ‘Oh yeah.’ ‘AJ’ [Anthony Joshua] and that lot brought him over but they didn’t really…’. The lightbulb switched on.
“I reached out to my brother and he said, ‘I’ll be honoured’. He was with us [at altitude] in Spain; we’ve come here, and what I’ve learned from being around him in a short space of time, you couldn’t buy.”