Everything about Oleksandr Usyk's next cruiserweight title defense will feature a series of firsts - including from whom he receives instructions on fight night.
The unbeaten cruiserweight champ - who won Olympic Gold for his native Ukraine in 2012 - still awaits confirmation of a date and opponent for his next fight. When and wherever that shall it take place, it will come with the 30-year old southpaw being guided by Anatoly Lomachenko, father and head trainer of the prodigious and reigning super featherweight titlist Vasyl Lomachenko.
Lomachenko replaces James Ali Bashir in the corner. The announcement came Sunday afternoon through the press office of K2 Promotions.
"Bashir is a very nice man and good trainer," Usyk said in a press statement. "He has his own approach to training. But the moment came when I realized that it was not enough for me any longer. That is why I decided to change everything that I did before.
The move seems a natural transition for Usyk (12-0, 11KOs), who is very close with the Lomachenko family. Still, the decision was difficult given the history made with his previous team.
Usyk won a title quicker than any other cruiserweight in boxing history, dethroning Poland's Krzysztof Glowacki in just his 11th pro bout last September. The feat eclipsed the previously mark held by Evander Holyfield, the legendary former two-division world champion and recently elected Hall of Fame entrant who won his first cruiserweight crown in his 12th pro contest.
Three months later came Usyk's first career bout in the United States, scoring a 9th round stoppage of scrappy Thabiso Mchunu last December at The Forum in Inglewood, California. As it turns out, it will serve as the last time that he and Bashir - a former disciple of the late Emanuel Steward through the famed Kronk Gym boxing program in Detroit - will work together.
"I am very grateful to (Bashir) for being with me all this time," Usyk states. "There is nothing personal, just business. I think we will stay in touch in the future.”