In the biggest fight of the year so far, Anthony Joshua puts his WBA, IBF, and WBO world heavyweight titles on the line in front of 60,000 fans at the Tottenham Hotspur stadium this Saturday night.
His opponent Oleksandr Usyk will need no introduction among the UK boxing fans, this will be his third venture on UK soil as a professional, with previous victories against both Tony Bellew and Dereck Chisora coupled with the fact Usyk is a London 2012 Olympic gold medallist and former undisputed Cruiserweight champion.
This, in my opinion, is Joshua’s most difficult opponent to date, make no mistake Usyk is an elite fighter, and technically more gifted than Joshua with a superior skill set. The only factor that perhaps swings this fight in Joshua’s favour is that Usky is not a natural heavyweight, he will not bring to the table the sheer power and strength Joshua will be bringing.
The key to this fight will be if Usyk can really hurt Joshua and therefore back him up and keep him honest, if the answer to that is yes I really believe Usky can and will win the fight, and win it by knockout. If the answer is no then I think Usyk will be in for a long night and will simply be overpowered the longer the fight goes on.
To draw conclusions many will look to the Chisora fight and how Usyk was far from convincing in that fight, struggled at times with the pressure of a heavyweight, despite winning the fight clear enough on my card, although I know there were some who felt Chisora had done enough to at least get a draw.
Struggling with a heavyweight contender like Chisora doesn’t breed confidence when faced with a heavyweight beast like Anthony Joshua, however in boxing styles make fights, and Chisora is a completely different fighter to Anthony Joshua, and although many would disagree, I would argue much more rugged. Joshua is more prone to being rocked or buzzed in a fight, we have now seen it on several occasions.
Therefore the question is can Usyk overcome the power and natural size advantage Joshua has and utilize his superior technical ability, boxing IQ to find a moment in the fight to counter, time Joshua and hurt him? I think he can.
While probably an unpopular opinion among UK fans I am going to go out on a whim and say Joshua loses this fight, possibly by stoppage again.
PREDICTION: USYK BY KO/TKO ROUND 9