Usyk's former trainer is Dubois' secret weapon

Daniel Dubois has recruited Oleksandr Usyk’s former trainer James Ali Bashir to assist with his preparations for Saturday’s fight with the IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight champion.

Bashir guided Usyk, 36, from his second professional fight – the stoppage of Epifanio Mendoza in December 2013 – to winning the WBO cruiserweight title with victory over Krzysztof Glowacki and then making his first title defence against Thabiso Mchunu in December 2016 before he was replaced with Anatoly Lomachenko.

He had previously assisted the late, great Emanuel Steward for 17 years out of the Kronk in Detroit when, among others, he also worked alongside the revered trainer with Lennox Lewis and Usyk’s fellow Ukrainian Wladimir Klitschko.

Saturday’s fight at the Stadion Wroclaw in Poland is the 25-year-old Dubois’ first under Don Charles, following his separation from Shane McGuigan. 

Charles first met Bashir when Derek Chisora was days from challenging Klitschko for the same IBF and WBO titles in December 2010, and extended an invitation for him to not only provide his insight into one of the world’s leading fighters, but to help oversee Dubois’ training camp. The American joined them while they trained at altitude in the Sierra Nevada mountain range in Spain, followed them back to London, where he has been living with Charles, and will fly with them to Poland on Sunday evening to work his corner on fight night.

“We [essentially] lived together for three years so I’ve vast knowledge [of Usyk],” Bashir, 72, told ProBox TV. “I understand the workings of Oleksandr Usyk. 

“One thing about it, even after he let me go, his nature’s not going to change. That’s the biggest thing that I extracted from him. Professionals is what we are – he’s a professional and I’m a professional. He chose not to use me; Daniel chose to use me. My knowledge of him carries on – that doesn’t stop because I stopped working with him. 

“I had an apartment in Ukraine – in Kiev. I lived in Ukraine, and I went to the gym every day in Ukraine. For the most part we spent six hours a day [together] for three years; we travelled together to different fights in Ukraine. He understood who I was and I understood who he was.

“The nature of an individual doesn’t change. They’ll get different concepts from another trainer – another teacher – but for the most part the nature of the boxer stays the same. I’ve watched his fights over the years after I left, and I don’t see much of a difference, much of a change, in the boxer. 

Bashir, 72, previously spent time with Anthony Joshua, but said that he rarely felt like he was being listened to when he did.

“Daniel is easier to relate to, as opposed to Anthony Joshua, because Anthony has a lot of people in his ear,” he explained. “Everybody has their own particular motive – an agenda, if you will. 

“Daniel’s a far better listener than Anthony. I was with Anthony in and out, but I never had a sustained relationship with him. One time we was in Wladimir Klitschko’s camp. Twice I came to London to work with him. 

“Anthony was all over the place. With the knowledge he was receiving – he’d hear something from me, then he’d hear something from somebody else. What’s the sense of bringing me here if you’re not going to listen to me? So I packed my bags and went home. It’s futile. It’s not going nowhere.”