Anthony Joshua is pretty confident in himself that he won’t fall apart mentally against Oleksandr Usyk on September 25th as he did against Andy Ruiz Jr. in their first fight in 2019. Joshua (24-1, 22 KOs) says he’s not overlooking Usyk (18-0, 13 KOs) due to his smaller size and that he’s mentally viewing him as a true heavyweight.
IBF/WBA/WBO heavyweight champion Joshua has a lot to lose in this fight with Usyk at the Tottenham Hotspurs Stadium in London. A loss for Joshua would sidetrack his vision to become the undisputed heavyweight champion, delaying it, maybe even permanently ruining it.
Although Joshua won’t admit it, he likely views Usyk as a bump in the road, a small obstacle he must overcome to get to a massive payday fight against WBC champion Tyson Fury in early 2022.
Unfortunately for Joshua, if he loses to Usyk, he will need to fight him again, and that’s where it’ll get ready interesting.
Usyk isn’t the type to celebrate after a big win, so Joshua can’t count on him ruining his chances in the rematch the way Andy Ruiz Jr. did by porking out and not training.
Joshua says he won’t fold
“With Usyk, I don’t really fold under pressure,” said Anthony Joshua to Sky Sports.
“On September 25th, it’s time to practice everything I know.”
It may not be a case of Joshua folding in a loss to Usyk. You can argue that it would be a situation where Usyk used his superior ring IQ and conditioning to take advantage of a guy with a history of stamina issues.
When you got a fighter with a long history of cardio problems, that’s not going to disappear simply because you took off some weight.
Yeah, some fighters improve their stamina with the help of banned substances like phentermine and clenbuterol. Still, for the clean guys like Joshua, it’s going to be next to impossible for him to avoid gassing out again if Usyk pushes a fast pace.
“Usyk was a phenomenal cruiserweight, amateur level and pro,” said Frank Warren to iFL TV. “He came up and fought Chazz Witherspoon, went seven rounds with him, and he also fought Derek Chisora and beat them both. He did what he had to do.
“Is he more comfortable at the weight now that time has moved on? I don’t know. We’re going to find out very quickly when the fight starts because that for me is going to be one of the exciting things about this fight.
Usyk could outbox Joshua
“Can Anthony Joshua impose all the pluses that he’s got, which is his size, punch power, and long jab?” said Warren. “Can he impose that on a very good boxer, who, if he can get under that jab, can give him a lot of problems.
“If he can get in and get underneath him and work and let his shots go. He’s got fast hands. His [Usyk] hands are as good as [Andy] Ruiz’s.
“If he can let his shots go, and if he can stay there after six or seven rounds, then I’d start worrying if I was Joshua. If it goes the distance, I got a feeling in my heart that Usyk would outbox him.
“In the first couple of rounds, you’re going to get the general feel of how the fight is going to go because he’s got to impose himself on him, AJ, and let his bombs go,” said Warren.
If Usyk is still around in the championship rounds on September 25th, Joshua will be in deep, deep trouble. That’s when Usyk will start unloading with his left hands right when Joshua has gassed out, and we could see another upset.
Losing the first time will be bad for Joshua, but it’s game over for him if he loses the rematch with Usyk. I’m sure Joshua will still be popular in the UK, but he’ll be viewed as a washed-up fighter in the U.S.
“To get smoke, you have to have a fire, and that’s Tyson Fury,” said Warren in reacting to Joshua saying he’s going to “smoke” Fury.
“I’ll light that fire under him, and he WILL smoke him. I hope that fight, and I’ll be very surprised if Tyson doesn’t come out as the victor and stop him,” said Warren.