Oleksander Usyk is transforming his physique rapidly to dethrone IBF/WBA/WBO heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua in their fight next month on September 25th (LIVE on DAZN) at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in North London, England.
Usyk (18-0, 13 KOs) appears to have added 15 pounds to his previously slender 217-lb frame and looks like he’s in the 230s now. If that added weight translates over to power, we could see Usyk pull off the upset.
Joshua (24-1, 22 KOs) is also putting in hard work in training camp, but he’s less focused on building muscle. It’s more about increasing speed and endurance for Joshua, and that’s not going to be an easy thing to do.
Usyk has the stamina, maneuverability, and ring IQ over Joshua. But on the flip-side, Joshua will have the power, speed, size, and the home country advantage.
If Usyk was planning on winning a decision, he needs to put that thought out of his head because he’s not likely to win many rounds as the visiting fighter in the UK.
Usyk can outbox Joshua
“Just by being himself. What I mean by saying that is, he’s the best boxer Anthony Joshua will ever face in his whole career by anyone,” said Tony Bellew to Boxing Social on Oleksandr Usyk in what he brings to the table against AJ on September 25th.
“From what he can do, the style he’s got, the things he can does, he’s unbelievable. I’m still in awe of him, and I got beat up by him.
He’s exceptional. But AJ has the size, he has the power, and he has the speed to get close to him to make him work and make him pay.
I think that will catch up to Oleksandr Usyk eventually. If he were fighting anyone else besides my friends, I would be cheering him on, wishing him well.
But he keeps fighting my friends, which is a terrible shame because I’m a huge fan of Oleksandr Usyk, and I’m a huge admirer of his work. Brilliant fighter, but I just think AJ is a step too far,” said Bellew.
Usyk will try and outbox Joshua and wear him down because he can’t stand and slug with AJ.
Bellew was worn down by Usyk’s fast pace
“I was absolutely exhausted after seven rounds,” said Bellew about his fight with Usyk in 2018.
“I was spent, completely spent. I was exhausted. Why? Because he made me tired. He’s imposing. When he’s out of range, he’s in range.
“When he’s in range, he’s out of range. Constant pressure with the feet all of the time, and it’s draining, absolutely draining.
“No one has ever made me that tired, ever. He’s just an exceptional fighter. I rate him highly. No, he’s not the biggest puncher, but very accurate.
“Once he gets you tired as he does, you don’t need to be the biggest puncher. You just need to be accurate and land clean on the chin.
“As we saw against me, he found a way to do that. He’s an amazing fighter,” said Bellew.
The constant changing of angles and the movement of Usyk wore Bellew down until he was ready to be knocked out in the eighth in their fight in 2018.
Bellew showed more power, hand speed, and explosive combination punching than Usyk did. However, it didn’t matter because once Usyk wore Bellew down, he went after him in the eighth round and scored a quick stoppage.
Is the Usyk greatest cruiserweight in history?
“He has every right to say that he’s the greatest cruiserweight that ever lived. He has every right to say it.
“Look at the job he’s done. He completely shuts out the likes of Gassiev. They don’t even touch him. He’s laughing at them.
“They don’t even get near him. The best-traveled fighter in the history of boxing. He goes to everybody’s backyard and beats them on their own turf.
“Literally, the best-traveled fighter the world has ever seen. He goes to everyone else’s backyard. I couldn’t speak any more highly of him,” said Bellew about Usyk.
Some boxing fans would argue that Evander Holyfield is the greatest cruiserweight of all time and had a fighting style more suited to the pros than Usyk.
If Usyk is the greatest cruiserweight of all time, that definitely gives him a chance to defeat Joshua. You can’t say that Joshua is the greatest heavyweight of all time or even the tenth greatest.
Top Rank promoter Bob Arum says Joshua isn’t an elite heavyweight, but he may not need to be.