This Saturday afternoon here in the states, Anthony Joshua faces his WBO mandatory challenger Oleksandr Usyk in a size and style matchup that’s intriguing. Can Usyk use his superb boxing skills from the outside to fluster AJ? On the other hand, will the size and power of Anthony Joshua at some point be too much for Usyk as this fight gets into the deep waters? This heavyweight extravaganza will stream live on DAZN and take place in front of a sold-out crowd expected to be over 60,000 fans from Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, England.
One of the many old sayings in boxing goes like this, “A good big man beats a good little man.” The saying has existed in boxing for a long time and can defiantly be argued for good reason but does it fit for this particular match? Anthony Joshua has the advantage in his 6’6 height and 4-inch reach, not to mention the natural weight on Usyk. Speaking of weight, we will have to see what both men look like on the scale to help create a formula for the winner of Saturday’s scrap. There’s a chance that weight isn’t a significant factor. AJ has somewhat slimmed down, and let us not forget Oleksandr did compete at heavyweight in the amateur’s ranks facing the likes of Joe Joyce and Junior Fa. To throw a curveball in their Usyk also fought at middleweight, dropping a decision to Shawn Porter.
A heavyweight with a two-fight sample size hasn’t gone all that well for Usyk, having faced a long-faded Chazz Witherspoon and most recently a compelling bout against Dereck Chisora. Not that Chisora deserved the victory over him, but his body and what occurred in the fight could be reasons to raise a red flag. It is evident that Chisora’s shots had more effect on Usyk, and the Ukrainian native appeared a bit sluggish. Also, it’s been almost three years since Usyk brutally stopped Tony Bellew, and in that time frame, he’s fought just twice. That said, this last stretch which is close to a year out of the ring, could’ve to help Usyk be able to settle in more at the weight class comfortably.
From the Anthony Joshua angle, it was wise to lessen the bulkiness, as we saw in his rematch with Andy Ruiz. It appears Joshua has trimmed down a little more from recent videos/images, but the proof will be at the weigh-in. If he did cut down a tad, it would help him with speed and endurance and improve the fluidity of his combinations. Joshua talked a lot about becoming a student of the game and working on his craft in the downtimes between training camps which was evident in the second bout with Ruiz to an extent anyway. We know AJ isn’t an aggressive pressure fighter generally until he gets his man hurt. In that same token, let’s hope for his sake he doesn’t turn this into too much of a skills-fest in the middle of the ring.
Both combatants do prefer to fight at the range but can AJ win a chess match against Usyk? A range for Oleksandr is acceptable as long as he features active footwork and pivoting obviously behind a jab. If Usyk is at range without moving, he will be at the end of Joshua’s punches, and unless he can perfectly time him throughout the fight, it’s not a great place to be. If the fight does push towards the inside, this podcaster isn’t sure Usyk should spend a lot of time allowing AJ to lean on him, which would wear down Usyk quicker because of the extra weight. Usyk should hold only if he gets hurt or after landing a flush shot up close. Instead of a full-on bear-hug hold, he should employ a quick clinch and pivot out to safety.
The reason why boxing on the outside is a must for Usyk it gives him the best chance to gas AJ and frustrates him. Not known to be a great outside boxer Joseph Parker was able to have limited success by constantly being on the move. It was easy to see lateral movement made it more difficult for AJ to land in shots, especially combos. So not allowing Anthony to set up shop, so to speak, and let off his right overhands and uppercuts will pay dividends instead of staying in one place for too long, giving time for AJ to sit down on his punches and deliver with great accuracy.
The jab for both men will be a primary key and will likely decide the early rounds. In the first couple of games, Oleksandr cannot fall into the trap of starting slow, which is a bad habit he has shown repeatedly. However, after a few mediocre rounds in the action department, this should heat up into a quality two-way fight. The bigger puncher in AJ will eventually be too much for Usyk to handle, but his overall smarts and ability will be the reason he won’t be TKO’d.
Written by Chris Carlson Host/Producer of The Rope A Dope Radio Podcast Available www.blogtalkradio.com/ropeadoperadio & TheGruelingTruth.Com Follow on Twitter @RopeADopeRadio