Michael Hunter is picking Oleksandr Usyk to beat heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua when the two meet in September.
Hunter feels the things Joshua (24-1, 22 KOs) has been able to rely on recently to win fights, such as throwing uppercuts and using movement, won’t work against Usyk.
Joshua is facing a guy that can neutralize everything he’s capable of using against him, and he’s not going to be able to fall back on his size to win.
The imitation Klitschko style that Joshua has employed in his last two fights against Kubrat Pulev and Andy Ruiz Jr won’t help him against Usyk (18-0, 13 KOs).
Usyk knows how to defeat that style easily, and Joshua could be up the creek if he doesn’t land one of his big home run bombs.
Usyk is too fine-tuned for Joshua
“I don’t think Anthony Joshua beats Usyk unless he knocks him out,” said Michael Hunter to iFL TV. “This is heavyweight boxing, so there’s always going to be knockouts.
“He’s [Usyk] strong enough, and he’s an Olympian and all that. He has the accolades and attributes to do so.
“I just think Usyk is a little bit too fine-tuned for him [Joshua]. People are always going back on the Chisora fight because he didn’t look so good.
“But I think that was more of a ‘styles make fights’ type of thing. It’s in his favor to box somebody like Anthony Joshua, in my opinion,” said Hunter.
Skill-wise, this could be a mismatch between the 2012 Olympic gold medalist Usyk and Joshua, who hasn’t fought anyone with that type of ability in the pro ranks.
Hunter knows what it’s like to fight Usyk, having lost to him four years ago in 2017 by a wide 12 round decision.
That was a fight in which Hunter started well, throwing many shots, but Usyk adapted and reduced his punch output to a trickle. We could see the same thing happen to Joshua.
The sad thing is, Joshua could have swerved this fight with Usyk by giving up the WBO title. Joshua didn’t need to take this fight because he could have vacated the belt, and then waited for the dust to settle from next month’s Tyson Fury vs. Deontay Wilder III match.
Joshua has to go for broke
“You have to hit Usyk with something very sneaky when you’re that tall and that dynamic with Usyk and Anthony,” said Hunter.
“We know Anthony Joshua’s sneaky move is the uppercut, but that’s going to be a very rare punch to hit Usyk with.
“We know that Usyk is very defensive-minded, and he’s not there to engage. He’s there to get the points and win.
“So it’s going to be a very difficult feat and challenge for Anthony Joshua.
“It’s not going to be as easy as moving with [Kubrat] Pulev or Andy Ruiz in the second fight.
“He’s not going to have that advantage. So I think he [Joshua] should go for broke or something.
“They’re fighting, so there’s definitely a chance if they get in the ring. So we’ll see,” said Hunter.
Joshua went uppercut happy in his last fight against 40-year-old Kubrat Pulev last December. He wasn’t even trying to disguise what he was going to do against the Bulgarian Pulev because the guy was too old and too slow defensively to make the adjustments he needed to keep from getting hit with those shots.
It’s going to be difficult for Joshua if he tries to go back to that same punch against Usyk, as it may not work. For one, Usyk won’t fight on the inside the way that Pulev. Secondly, Usyk will be using a lot of movement, which will take away Joshua’s jab and his power.