On Saturday night, within the architectural zeitgeist of Tottenham Hotspur’s multi-sport auditorium, Anthony Joshua will defend his IBF, WBA, WBO & IBO Heavyweight world titles in an intriguing clash with former unified Cruiserweight boss Oleksander Usyk.
As ever with a Matchroom Boxing show, the undercard also offers intrigue in what could be SKY Sports’ last big PPV Saturday night for some time, if Anthony Joshua makes a broadcaster switch following this, his final contracted fight for Isleworth’s finest – but that’s another story for another day.
Matchroom’s own broadcaster switch to DAZN back in July has seen their further metamorphosis towards a UFC output model with the formation of Matchroom Media and the increased content this is delivering across multiple platforms, including their own YouTube channel where the preliminary action starts from 4 pm.
Daniel Lapin (W4 L0 D0 KO0) v Pawel Martyniuk (W4 L7 D0 KO4)
Daniel Lapin will be looking to maintain his unbeaten run against Pawel Martinuik in a meeting of Ukrainians at light heavyweight, and you’d expect that to be the case. Martynuik’s four wins have all come by knockout, so there is a wisp of danger for the 6’ 6” Lapin, who will no doubt keep this one long.
Prediction: UD Lapin
Chris Ousley (W12 L0 D0 KO9) v Khasan Baysangurov (W21 L1 D0 KO11)
This one switches to Matchroom’s Facebook page at 5 pm and sees Chris Ousley step up in class against the experienced Baysangurov with the WBA Intercontinental middleweight title up for grabs. Ousley, a former college footballer player, was something of a late starter but won national titles and qualified for the Olympic Trials before turning pro. Managed by the Anthony Joshua and guided by head trainer Manny Robles, he is one to watch
Prediction: KO Ousley
Maxim Prodan (W19 L0 D1 KO0) v Florian Marku (W8 L0 D1 KO6)
Following some spicy antics, both verbally and physically, in Thursday’s final press conference, this fight opens the SKY Box Office show and will almost certainly tell us where we are at with Albanian needle mover Florian Marku. Prodan’s experience could be key, but his obvious lack of power is going to be a massive problem against his marauding opponent, whose only gear is aggressive. This is Prodan’s first fight outside his native Italy, and whilst unbeaten, the level of opposition has been very ordinary. For Marku, the draw with Jamie Stewart was a fair result, and the undersized Rylan Charlton gave him plenty to think about, so this is the right test for both men at the right time.
Prediction: KO Marku
Callum Smith (W27 L1 D0 KO19) v Lenin Castillo (W21 L3 D1 KO16)
Callum Smith’s debut at light-heavyweight is the story here, and when he steps through the ropes on Saturday night, most will marvel at how the 6’ 3” Liverpudlian managed to get anywhere near the Super-middleweight limit. Castillo has been around and taken both Marcus Browne and Dmitry Bivol the distance, so is no mug but get through this one, and there are some great nights out there for Smith at 12½ Stone.
Prediction: UD Smith
Campbell Hatton (W3 L0 D0 KO0) v Sonni Martinez (W2 L4 D0 KO0)
A palette cleansing sorbet of a fight sees the son of Ricky, Campbell Hatton enjoys his fourth outing as a professional against late replacement Sonni Martinez. Hopes obviously remain high for Campbell, and his boxing has looked increasingly measured since his highly-strung debut on the Whyte v Povetkin 2 undercard out in Gibraltar back in March. Expect further progress here.
Prediction: UD Hatton
Lawrence Okolie (W16 L0 D0 KO13) v Dilan Prasovic (W15 L0 D0 KO12)
Somebody’s ‘0’ has got to go in Lawrence Okolie’s first defence of the WBO Cruiserweight title that he won with an impressive knockout of Poland’s Krzysztof Glowacki in their March contest for the vacant strap. On paper, Montenegrin Dilan Prasovic looks like a stern test in a man who has happily fought across Europe and remained undefeated. Although no names really stand out on the resume, and his victory going into this fight was over a 7-29-1 Tomislav Rudan under the bright lights of the Splendid Hotel, Budva. No, me neither.
Prediction: KO Okolie
Anthony Joshua (W24 L1 D0 KO22) v Oleksander Usyk (W18 L0 D0 KO13)
This is a boxing deluxe. Top of the mountain where the air is pure and the view is panoramic. An Olympic gold apiece from the same London 2012 games at Super-heavyweight and Heavyweight, respectively, this is an encounter between what the great Lennox Lewis would have described as pugilist specialists.
There is less to say about this fight than you might think. It is all about the right game plan wrapped in the steel gauze of a will to win. For both men, the experience and quality is there to the point of overflow. Usyk with a storied amateur pedigree followed by trans-European title gathering to the point of undisputed at Cruiser. And then Joshua, a quick learner and hard worker who conquered the amateur scene with golden aplomb before ripping up the professional Heavyweight scene with similar vigor and spectacle. So, the only real prediction here is intrigue and anticipation for what is almost certainly the sporting event of the year in the UK. But there has to be a winner, doesn’t there. Unless it’s a draw. And don’t count that out in this fight for the ages.
Prediction: KO Joshua