Anthony Joshua and Oleksandr Usyk are set for their heavyweight title bout
Heavyweight boxing champion Anthony Joshua will defend his titles against undefeated Oleksandr Usyk in London this weekend.
By Stone Lexington
Updated: Sept. 22, 2021 • 3:15 PM ET
Anthony Joshua - Wikimedia Commons
Anthony Joshua will defend his heavyweight titles against Oleksandr Usyk at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London on Saturday. The winner could be set up for an even bigger fight afterwards.
Joshua lost the WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO titles to Andy Ruiz Jr. in a shocking stoppage in June 2019 at Madison Square Garden, his only loss in eight years as a professional boxer. The 24-1 fighter regained the belts in a rematch six months later in Saudi Arabia, avenging one of the biggest upsets in boxing since the turn of the century.
In his only title defense since regaining the titles, Joshua dominated Bulgaria’s Kubrat Pulev in December by ninth-round knockout at Wembley Arena. In his first fight since, Joshua will face a boxer in Usyk who has yet to lose in his professional career.
The 34-year-old Usyk is one of boxing’s best, having accomplished a feat that few have in the ring. With his near-shutout win over Murat Gassiev in July 2018 at cruiserweight, Usyk became the first fighter ever in the division unify all four world title belts. In moving up to heavyweight two fights later, Usyk has his sights set on heavyweight gold.
Speaking of gold, Usyk and Joshua have traveled a common path. Both boxers won Olympic gold medals in London in 2012 with Usyk fighting a division below Joshua. Since then, Usyk is 18-0 as a professional with 13 knockouts.
Usyk’s first fight at heavyweight came in October 2019 against Chazz Witherspoon, who retired in the corner following the seventh round of a one-sided fight. Following that destruction, Usyk defeated Dereck Chisora by unanimous decision in his last fight, but he’ll take a big step up in heavyweight competition on Saturday.
The 31-year-old Joshua, who will not only have a “home-field” advantage on Saturday, will have a significant size advantage over Usyk. Standing 6-foot-6, Joshua will likely weigh around 245 pounds when the bell rings this weekend. At 6-foot-3, Usyk weighed in at 217 pounds for the fight with Chisora, while Joshua weighed in at 240 pounds for the fight against Pulev. Although Usyk will be the smaller man, he may have an advantage of his own heading into the bout.
Usyk is a southpaw fighter, which can give any opponent trouble. In only his third fight at heavyweight, the undefeated Ukrainian will have to use his quickness and technical abilities to thwart the power-punching Joshua. Meanwhile, Joshua has to avoid the mistakes he showed against Ruiz during that unforgettable night in New York.
Joshua has won nine world heavyweight title fights, but he has hoped for a unification bout with WBC heavyweight titleholder Tyson Fury. Fury is scheduled for a third fight with Deontay Wilder on Oct. 9, but the winner of that bout could face the winner of Saturday’s fight between Joshua and Usyk.
Whoever wins in both bouts, hopefully boxing fans will get to see a unification fight sometime next year.
• Start time/how to watch: The main card can be seen on DAZN at 1 p.m. EST this Saturday with the main event beginning around 5:10 p.m. EST.
You Might Also Like
You Might Also Like