Anthony Joshua could be stumbling into a real mess tonight when he defends his IBF/WBA/WBO heavyweight titles against the upset-minded Oleksandr Usyk at the Tottenham Hotspurs Stadium in London.
Tonight’s fight matches two Olympic gold medalists from the 2012 London games in Joshua vs. Usyk.
Given the considerable size difference between the two fighters, virtually no one ever considered the possibility that they would meet up one day.
Oleksandr ready for Joshua
Usyk (18-0, 13 KOs) has been studying Joshua’s fighting style for years, and he’s got a good idea of how to defeat the big 6’6″ giant.
The former undisputed cruiserweight champion Usyk knows that Joshua has severe cardio issues that can pop up at any time in the fight, even in the early rounds.
Although Joshua has trimmed down to 240 lbs for this fight, it may not be light enough for him to deal with the fast pace that the highly skilled southpaw Usyk will be setting tonight.
Adam Smith of Sky Sports notes that some casual boxing fans are under the mistaken impression that this Usyk is just a tune-up level opponent for Joshua and not a severe threat to beating him.
For those fans, they might be in for a shock if Usyk defeats Joshua tonight or gives him a lot of problems, as he’s expected to.
“People don’t know how good Oleksandr Usyk is. This guy is elite,” said Adam Smith of Sky Sports to Boxing UK.
“If Anthony puts on a performance tomorrow night and outboxes him and knocks him out, that’s an enormous statement, and you can’t knock that.
Usyk prepared for Joshua
“Also, he’s been ready for Fury. But Usyk has been prepared for Joshua for years, and he’s always known this time would probably come.
“I don’t want to be negative here. I’m not selling Usyk, and I’m just telling. You know yourself how good this guy is, and maybe the casual fans don’t quite know that.
“They’ll turn up tomorrow; they’ll watch on Box Office and think, ‘This is AJ in a warm-up before Fury.’ It’s not a warm-up; it’s serious business.
“It’s for the world heavyweight title, and this mandatory challenger is top draw.
“If he puts on performance against Usyk, you have to step back and say this is AJ’s time, and then you got to take the winner of Fury-Wilder 3, which you assume will be Fury, but you can’t write off Wilder with that power. On October 10th, it could be a completely different story,” said Smith.
Fans shouldn’t be surprised if Usyk wins tonight because this guy knows how to beat bigger goliath-sized heavyweights like Joshua.
Joshua needs to win tonight to keep alive his dreams of becoming the undisputed heavyweight champion.
Once Joshua gets past Usyk, he’ll wait on the winner of the October 9th fight between WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder to find out who his opponent will be for the undisputed championship in early 2022.
Naturally, Joshua and his promoter Eddie Hearn would prefer to face Fury, but Wilder has ideas of his own, and he’s been retrofitted by new coaches Malik Scott and Don House for his third clash with Tyson.