The biggest fight this weekend isn’t in the UFC. It will be in the world of boxing. Unified heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua will take on the former undisputed cruiserweight champ in Oleksandr Usyk. Joshua looks to remind everyone that he was the king for the longest in the heavyweight division even if the Wilder/Fury fight never materialized. For Usyk, he’s looking to make history and completely unify his second division.
Anthony Joshua holds three of the four major belts in the heavyweight division. A monster in size and technically beautiful boxing, Joshua has been near perfect in his boxing career. His lone blunder was a fluke loss to Andy Ruiz Jr. on short notice. Since then, the 31 year old avenged his loss to Ruiz leaving no doubt on who the superior boxer really is. Then he finished Kubrat Pulev to cap things off. But doubts about Joshua still remain with that “1” in his loss column, something that boxing needs to destigmatize.
Coming for his titles, Oleksandr Usyk. Usyk unified the cruiserweight division and aims to repeat the feat up a class at heavyweight. At 18-0, Usyk’s record has seemed perfect. His heavyweight stint, on the other hand, has not been. His first fight was an underwhelming win over Chazz Witherspoon. That fight was originally against Tyrone Sprong and the change in opponent gave Usyk hell. Then Usyk took on the perennial contender Dereck Chisora. That fight saw Usyk struggle with the size of Chisora and had many questioning if he had the size and frame for a heavyweight. But he took the decision and now is gifted a shot at eternal glory.
The Technical Side of Anthony Joshua and Oleksandr Usyk
This time out, Usyk will likely not have to deal with a bum-rushing Joshua like he did in the Chisora fight. Joshua is much more the boxer and will not put himself out of position like Chisora did.
The thing is Joshua and Usyk are very similar boxers. Both rely on technical soundness to put their opponents in bad position. Both Anthony Joshua and Oleksandr Usyk use the jab very well. While they are not identical, this stylistic matchup will likely lead to a very tense chess match.
For Anthony Joshua, his size will have to be the advantage come Saturday. Allegedly he is coming in lighter to deal with the speed of Usyk, but he will not be sacrificing so much power. He’ll need that to keep Usyk honest. Joshua will need to keep Usyk at range with the jab and cross and make him desperate to get a finish knowing that he’s behind. Then, Joshua can capitalize and put him away or punish him.
Oleksandr Usyk will need to be all in on speed against Joshua. The Brit can cut as much weight as he wants and he’ll still not be as fast as Usyk. This is Usyk’s advantage. I often speak about widening the cardio gap in fights and that’s exactly what Usyk is going to want to do. He won’t be at peak cardio like he normally is at cruiserweight. But it was that difference in speed and cardio that had him edge out Chisora in their fight a few months ago. Usyk will want to go to the body early against Anthony Joshua and reap the benefits of his work in the second half of the fight.
Fans looking forward a slugfest will be sorely disappointed, however. It’s simply not the way these two fight. This fight will be won with footwork and poise. Usyk is once again going into enemy territory taking on Joshua in the UK which, as unfortunate as it is, will be a factor in judging this fight.
Should Oleksandr Usyk win this fight, don’t count on him going on to unify the division with a mega fight with the winner of Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder in October. There will be a rematch and Usyk will have to beat Joshua twice.
Regardless of who you are pulling for, this weekend of heavyweight boxing is one fans cannot miss. Usyk and Joshua has all the makings of one of the most technical heavyweight boxing matches in history. It will be a cerebral fight. It will be a work of art.
Your friendly neighborhood fight fan. I watch way too many fights and my wife lets me know it. Also, Cowboy Cerrone is the GOAT.