Oleksandr Usyk vs. Anthony Joshua II Preview

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The heavyweight division has seen a lot of rematches in recent history. The trilogy between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder will go down as one of the best in the history of the sport. Now, Oleksandr Usyk looks to prove last September’s performance against Anthony Joshua was no fluke. 

The former undisputed cruiserweight champion, Usyk moved up in weight to challenge Joshua for his three title belts last September. Usyk used superior footwork, boxing technique, and patience to keep Joshua at bay that night in Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. The fans in the stadium that night had not been that disappointed since Jose Mourinho couldn’t turn the club around way back when. 

That being said, things are very different not in more ways than they should be for both parties. Joshua took a long road to find his path to redemption. Usyk faced the unbearable weight of being the athletic face of a nation facing its greatest fight ever in a literal sense. 

Anthony Joshua Takes the Rocky Three Path

His path is similar to Rocky Balboa in more ways than one surprisingly. In the movies, Rocky wins the title in the second movie and then rides a long, easy path to superstardom. Never facing the challenge of CLubber Lang and when he did face the stiffer test he folded. 

Joshua didn’t fold against Usyk but he certainly was exposed. Exposed in a much different fashion than he was with Andy Ruiz. He was outboxed, plain and simple.

What did Rocky have to do to get his mojo back? He headed west and asked the former fighter Apollo Creed to turn him into a newer, more polished version of himself. Anthony Joshua did the same thing travelling the world before landing in California with former world champion turned world-class trainer Robert Garcia

Garcia’s work with his little brother Mikey Garcia is well documented but he has become a guy who boxers turn to when they need to be born again. He was able to turn guys around like Kelly Pavilek, Victor Ortiz, Brandon Rios, Marcos Maidana and most recently Nonito Donaire. His work with Maidana is where we should focus though. Maidana was turned into a refined, chaotic puncher and nearly beat Floyd Mayweather with that style. Garcia is the ultimate wildcard in this fight because if he can do the same thing with Joshua then we may have an interesting fight this weekend.

Oleksandr Usyk Will Walk to the Ring with the Weight of a Country

It isn’t fair to hold this over Oleksandr Usyk’s head but we are kidding ourselves if we don’t talk about it. Last September, Russia invading Ukraine was a joke the country’s Twitter account made. Five months later, Russia invaded Usyk’s native Ukraine and because of that, we have had to wait for this fight to develop.

Much like his country’s greatest athletes in Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko, Usyk answered the call to arms. After a month of fighting for his country’s life, he left to start his training camp for this fight. No other fighter should have to make the switch from literal soldier to prize fighter but here we are. 

Oleksandr Usyk needs to come in and handle his emotions. If he remains the refined, technical boxer then he should be able to box circles around Joshua. If he comes out and looks for a quick finish though then we may see a different song being sung by the Englishman on Saturday evening.

What will Determine the Outcome of this Fight?

For Usyk we just touched on it. He may be the smaller man but he is the more technical and polished fighter that Anthony Joshua could never dream to be if we are being honest. 

It is always tough to be the guy coming off the win in a rematch. You question what really needs changing and for Usyk that rings more true than we can ever understand. He is the perfect boxer for today’s heavyweight division. He is more technical than anyone else in the division and he is just big enough to handle the potential reach issues. He just needs to trust in the boxing skills that allowed him to win a gold medal and for him become the undisputed cruiserweight champion.

As for Anthony Joshua, he needs to make this thing a rough and nitty-gritty fight from the ring of the opening bell. Usyk’s style is that of classical music, Joshua needs to go a hair under Woodstock ‘99. He needs to give Usyk no time to think, no time to process, just non-stop action. 

The best part? That may be the exact game plan that trainer Robert Garcia implements on Saturday. Both x-factors for both men are from forces outside the ring, whoever can prove to be the mentally refined fighter should get the nod by the end of the day.

We broke down the whole fight in a bonus episode of the MMASucka podcast that can be found right here:

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