Boxing

Anthony Joshua vs. Oleksandr Usyk Preview

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Image for Anthony Joshua vs. Oleksandr Usyk Preview

While UFC 266 steals all the combat sports words attention there is a very subtle yet impressive matchup of great boxers taking place in the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium between Anthony Joshua and Oleksandr Usyk.

Ironically enough these two men are tied back all the way to their illustrious amateur careers that peaked at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

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Anthony Joshua entered the games in the super heavyweight division while Oleksandr Usyk was in the heavyweight division, both men would steamroll their competition in route to earning gold medals for themselves and their countries of England and Ukraine. Both men would also see hot starts to their careers starting with 29 straight knockouts combined between the two, superstardom was in the palm of their hands.

The Marketable One from the United Kingdom

Anthony Joshua as mentioned had a hot start to his career, after the London games he would start his career with a privy of knockouts and impressive performances against names such as Dominic Breazeale and Charles Martin, as well as fellow countrymen Dillan Whyte and Gary Cornish. All these bouts were victories by knockout as were all of his first 18 bouts including having an average fight time of just under two and a half rounds, Joshua wasn’t getting paid by the hour on his climb up the ranks.

After 18 bouts he and his promoter Eddie Hearn decided to go after a legend, a man Anthony Joshua was a sparring partner for, Vladimir Klitschko.

Joshua and Klitschko would sell out Wembley Stadium and put each other through the wringer en route to a fight of the year and Joshua’s performance specifically was uber impressive as he would score a TKO win in round 11 after a back and forth affair. A star would be born after the Klitschko win with him then going to Wales twice and then selling Wembley out again in bouts against Carlos Takam, Joseph Parker, and Alexander Povetkin that were all impressive performances. He would then take the Joshua tour overseas to the United States for the first time against an unknown Mexican-American in Andy Ruiz.

https://twitter.com/wager6ag/status/1399755159383777283 

Obviously, history was on Andy Ruiz’s side that night but when the pair met again they had a Rocky Three moment where Anthony Joshua would just dominate the fight and score a unanimous decision victory over Ruiz. With Ruiz no longer in the back of his mind, Joshua moved on to bigger and better opponents such as Lineal Heavyweight Champion Tyson Fury.

Again though, things wouldn’t go Joshua’s way, legal battles and countersuits would result in both men not facing off but rather Joshua settling for a mega-fight against Cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk.

The World Champion isn’t a Consolation Prize

Oleksandr Usyk, just like Joshua, saw his stardom rise at an insane rate after winning Olympic gold in 2012. Usyk may not have the marketability of Joshua but he may have the more impressive resume collectively.

Hear me out on this point.

Usyk would not have any bouts handed to him, while Joshua would face the all-time heavyweight great Wladimir Klitschko, it was still an older Klitschko. Usyk would sharpen his skills against names like Krzysztof Glowacki, Marco Huck, and Murat Gassiev, the latter of which he would earn all the big belts from the organizations and become the Undisputed Cruiserweight champion by winning the World Boxing Super Series tournament.

That tournament made Oleksandr Usyk face the best starting in just his tenth professional bout and forced him to discover himself and make himself develop quicker than most boxers find to be ideal. 

After winning the Super Series tournament, Usyk would defend his belt against a well-known boxing Brit in Tony Bellew. New opponent, big names, no problem, Usyk would completely dominate the fight from start to finish before ending it in round eight by vicious knockout. 

https://twitter.com/SteveBoxman/status/1321059521637371906 

As the tweet above mentioned, Usyk would move onto another English fighter in Derek Chisora, Chisora was his usual talkative self which went to sell the fight very well in the UK. Usyk and Chisora would do 1.1 pay-per-view buys in Europe and in impressive performances he may have earned his current shot at the heavyweight belts against Anthony Joshua.

What to Expect on Saturday

Both men in Joshua and Usyk have shown the ability to put on a show while also being calculated. The fight could start slow or it could start fast, both men possess the power in either hand to rock the other though in Usyk we haven’t seen him hurt as badly as Joshua. 

Usyk will look to capitalize on his counter punching as the fight goes on, he thrives in the matador approach which may hurt Joshua as the fight progresses as he is prone to losing his discipline when he gets hit.  For Joshua, though he has the chance to land one of those massive hooks or straights he possesses and can hurt Usyk as he looks for the counterpunch.

The bottom line is boxing fans are in store for a fun Saturday night and it all starts in a boxing ring in a sold-out soccer stadium giving us all a glimpse of the world before COVID-19 as well as showing us the future of the sport.

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