Anyone who knows their boxing was grinning from ear to ear on the 25th of September 2021 as the former undisputed cruiserweight king Oleksandr Usyk bamboozled Anthony Joshua in front of a stunned Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
The two former Olympians went the distance, but after 12 rounds of action there was no doubt about who the rightful owner of the WBO, WBA, and IBF world championships was, and thankfully the judges agreed. A rematch clause has purportedly already been triggered by the Brit, but many fans are struggling to see what Joshua can do differently in the second fight to turn things around.
With the quirky Ukrainian having thrown a spanner in the works of a potential undisputed showdown between Tyson Fury and Joshua, we now take a look at the men who might have a shot of becoming undisputed heavyweight champion in 2022.
If sparring stories are anything to go by, Tyson Fury is easily the best heavyweight on the planet
At the time of writing Fury is about to set foot in the ring to face Deontay Wilder in a trilogy fight that few fans have much interest in, mainly because of the one-sided beatdown that the Gypsy King doled out in their second fight. Assuming he avoids the Bronze Bomber’s right hand for the third time, Fury should stand alone as the best heavyweight in the world, a fact borne out by him holding the coveted Ring Magazine strap which acts as the sport’s unofficial gauge of who is the best at a certain weight.
There has been plenty of talk of Dillian Whyte finally being given a shot at the WBC belt Fury holds – a mandatory challenge that Fury may have to overcome before he can face the winner of Usyk vs. Joshua 2. Whyte’s plodding style is perfectly suited to Fury, who dispatched a similar fighter in the shape of Derek Chisora not once but twice. With Usyk likely to hold onto his belts unless Joshua completely reinvents himself, the Gypsy King will fancy his chances of leaning on and overwhelming the Ukrainian who may not have a big enough punch to deter Fury.
After two underwhelming warmup fights at heavyweight, Usyk was not fancied by many casual fans to upset a giant Anthony Joshua, but those in the know knew exactly how much of a threat this technically gifted boxer posed. He eventually ran out an easy winner and announced himself as the number 2 heavyweight in the world. Boxing tipsters are now hypothesizing about what his chances would be when he is up against Tyson Fury or even a more aggressive heavyweight like Dillian White. Who knows, with his penchant for technical infighting, Usyk may even be tempted to an MMA crossover fight in the interim, something only someone as crazy as the Ukrainian might consider. Whatever Usyk decides to do in 2022, you can be sure that boxing and MMA predictions and picks columns will be buzzing with opinions regarding what his ceiling is in the heavyweight fight game.
Joshua’s body builder physique did nothing to help him as he was upset by Usyk in North London
When you punch as hard as Deontay Wilder does, there really is no fight that you cannot win and that means that for however long he chooses to box on, he should be considered as a credible threat. Could he string together a few highlight-reel KO’s and sail off into the sunset? Anything is possible in the squared circle.
A former two-time unified heavyweight champion should never be discounted, and Joshua has already shown that he can readjust and come again, doing so against Andy Ruiz. However, Usyk could well prove to be Joshua’s bogeyman, and it is unclear if the aggressive and mean Joshua of old can return to bully the Ukrainian in their rematch. If he can pull off such a monumental feat, then he may have the confidence to go and rock Fury in an undisputed fight for the ages.