Joe Joyce is warning Anthony Joshua that he could have big problems in his hands when facing the smaller, more mobile Oleksandr Usyk on September 25th in their match at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, England.
The 6’6″ 245-lb AJ will have a three-inch height and likely a 15-lb weight advantage over the 6’3″, 230-lb Usyk, but that might not be enough for him to win unless he catches Usyk with a big punch.
Joyce lost a five-round decision to Usyk in the World Series of Boxing many years ago in 2013, and he found out how difficult it is to deal with his fast week.
Despite having a big size advantage over the 2012 Olympic gold medalist Usyk, Joyce couldn’t do anything with him, and he ended up getting badly outclassed.
The same thing could happen to Joshua, who is slow on his feet as well, but not to the level of Joyce, though.
IBF/WBA/WBO heavyweight champion Joshua (24-1, 22 KOs) will be coming into the fight with the former undisputed cruiserweight champion Usyk as the favorite, but that doesn’t matter.
With Usyk’s talent, he could box circles around Joshua and show that the oddsmakers have no clue about boxing.
“Usyk’s southpaw stance is a problem for most fighters,” said Joe Joyce to DAZN. “Southpaws are tricky most of the time anyway, but Usyk takes it to another level.
“His footwork is also something that Joshua needs to be aware of. His footwork is so good. He’s a tricky southpaw, then you can see why he’s a hard night for anyone,” said Joyce.
It’s those left-hand shots that Usyk will be hitting Joshua with that will be the problem. Joyce was able to take them because he’s got a rock-iron chin, and he can handle many heavy shots.
In contrast, Joshua can be hurt by much weaker punches, and his stamina leaves a lot to be desired. The punches that Carlos Takam and Daniel Dubois landed on Joyce likely would have knocked Joshua into the next galaxy.
If Joshua isn’t able to find a way to avoid Usyk’s left hands, which would seem impossible, he’s not going to have his hand raised at the end of the night.
Obviously, that will make many boxing fans unhappy because they want to see Joshua battle the winner of the October 9th fight between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder.
We’ve known for a long time that Joshua is this era’s version of Wladimir Klitschko, and he’s not someone that was built to have a long-lasting reign as a champion.
Wladimir held world titles for a decade, but he also lost occasionally in knockout defeats to Ross Puritty, Corrie Sanders, and Lamont Brewster.
Joshua might need to use Klitschko’s playbook of constant clinching, jabbing, and moving if he wants to get out of the fight with Usyk without suffering a knockout loss.
Usyk is someone that can easily derail Joshua’s career if he beats him in consecutive fights. You have to believe that if Joshua loses to Usyk, he’ll insist on fighting him a second time in an immediate rematch.
While it worked out well for Joshua against Andy Ruiz Jr in avenging his loss, it could be a different story against Usyk.
“Shutting the distance down and getting close to Usyk is not the problem. It’s landing once you’re there,” said Tony Bellew.
“It’s one thing getting close and landing the odd shot, but to beat a fighter like Usyk, then you have to land regularly. When Joshua gets close, he’s got to land on Usyk.
“Usyk’s footwork is so good defensively and when he’s on the front foot, so landing big shots on him is very difficult,” said Bellew.