World-rated Australian heavyweight Demsey McKean 19-0 (12) has been labelled a “phenomenal heavyweight” by WBA, WBO and IBF world champion Anthony Joshua 24-1 (22).
The 30-year-old Queenslander has been in camp with the unified heavyweight champion in England as he prepares to defend his titles against mandatory challenger Oleksander Usyk 18-0 (13) at Tottenham Hotspurs Stadium this Saturday night.
McKean is a southpaw like former undisputed cruiserweight champion Usyk and just like the 34-year-old Ukrainian, he moves well around the ring.
“He is a great sparring partner,” the 31-year-old Joshua said. “He is six foot-something, big guy, southpaw – we don’t really get too many of those. He has great potential.”
McKean, who is managed and promoted by Angelo DiCarlo’s Ace Boxing, was drafted into camp to help imitate Usyk’s slick style.
“No-one is going to be exactly the same as the guy I am fighting but they will throw certain punches,” Joshua said.
“Anyone who throws punches at me is doing me a favour. Demsey is just throwing punches at me.
“Some of them are hitting me, some of them aren’t hitting me. When they do hit me, I think to myself: ‘How do I stop them from hitting me?’
“He’s just doing me a big favour of making me think how not to get hit against a southpaw.
“My brain is wiring to think: ‘Oh shit, there’s that backhand coming, boom’. Two weeks later ‘Oh shit, there’s that backhand coming, slip, bang’. It’s a blessing to have him in training.”
Covid-19 restrictions in Australia has made it hard for McKean to get regular fights so the opportunity to spar one of the best heavyweights in the world was a no-brianer.
“We first got offered to come over and join AJ’s sparring camp, probably about a month ago,” McKean told Sky Sports.
“Restrictions and the timing wasn’t great in Australia, especially for my coach. He was aiming to come over, but there was no guarantee of getting back into the country. That’s how strict it is.
“We pretty much made the decision a couple of weeks ago. Let’s get it sorted, let’s base ourselves over in the UK.
“There’s nothing happening in Australia. I’ve literally had two fights in almost two years. I’m unable to defend my titles. I can’t get any worthy opponents in Australia to defend the titles against.
“No-one is even allowed into the country to fight. I made the decision to pretty much head overseas and base myself over in the UK where the sparring is plentiful.”
Meanwhile, Joshua has signed a career-long promotional pact with Matchroom Boxing.
“This is the fourth and final promotional agreement we have signed together and I am honoured that AJ has confirmed his future with Matchroom,” said Matchroom Boxing boss Eddie Hearn.
“Just like we did from the debut, myself and the great team at Matchroom will continue to work relentlessly for Anthony in the many chapters that remain.”