In what is being billed as “The Rage on the Red Sea” we are a day or two away from the long-awaited rematch of last September’s WBA/IBF/WBO Heavyweight championship which the Ukrainian hero, Oleksandr Usyk took from British favourite Anthony Joshua in London. This contest is taking place on neutral soil in Saudi Arabia and is scheduled for 12-rounds.
Oleksandr Usyk v Anthony Joshua 2 Heavyweight Boxing Title Fight
There is very little we don’t know about both guys, but I have seen footage of Usyk (19-0, 13 KO’s) and the 35-year-old looks like he is bigger than ever before. The former undisputed Cruiserweight champ has slowly grown into the biggest division in boxing, and I wouldn’t be in the least surprised to see him tip the scales a week Friday very close to 230lbs (16st 6lbs). If he retains most of his speed this makes him even more dangerous than he was last year when he thoroughly dominated Joshua to snatch the belts.
Weighing 221lbs (15st 11lbs) that night, it was the smaller Usyk who had Joshua hurt on several occasions, notably in the third, the seventh and the final round. He got caught by a few shots by AJ but never looked troubled, and to me it looked like he boxed within himself. Usyk had the fight so firmly under his control he didn’t need to take risks, but I feel this fight is going to be different and it is the likely change of tactics of AJ that will force this. The Ukrainian champ is highly experienced, and considered a master-boxer, having had well over 300 amateur fights, and despite 80% of his pro-career being at Cruiserweight (a division he totally cleaned out), he is very used to training, sparring with, and fighting bigger men.
This now appears to be a “last-chance saloon” scenario for Joshua (24-2, 22 KO’s). Even though he is three-years younger than Usyk, it is AJ who is looking the much more shop-worn fighter. I was going over the Joshua record a few nights ago and was trying to pick out his most impressive performance, and I was having real difficulty working that out. Most will cite the Klitschko fight, yet I remember AJ being completely out on his feet in the sixth, and Klitschko for whatever reason didn’t press the button and finish the job. There were plenty of rumours surrounding future percentage of AJ earnings for Klitschko to sign for the fight so that is a possible explanation, but without proof, pure conjecture. However, since the Takam fight which came straight after Klitschko, I don’t think we have seen the same AJ. He has become more circumspect, he has wanted to box more, as if he has become frightened of taking shots, to the detriment of his own attacking strengths.
A fighter caught between two stalls, not knowing when to box or when to stand and fight, is an indecision which has proved fatal to many a fighter’s career. It is very possible we have seen the best of AJ, and the decision to change to the Californian trainer Robert Garcia earlier this year doesn’t look fully committed. If a fighter is to change trainer they go to the trainer’s gym, refocus, and learn new skills, with hard sparring, live in the surroundings. None of this has happened and it has been Garcia flying over to the Leicestershire gym of Joshua, spending a few days at a time with his charge. It smacks of the fighter, not the trainer, calling the shots and is not ideal preparation for AJ to attempt to reverse the result of the previous contest.
Oleksandr Usyk v Anthony Joshua 2 Heavyweight Boxing Title Fight Betting Preview & Tips
Although the fight went the distance last year, it was such a conclusive win for Usyk, one must feel that it must be considered a very difficult task for Joshua to change things so much to reverse that wide defeat this time around. No matter what anyone says, it is going to be a tough night for him. As for the fight, I feel AJ only has one possible way of winning and that is to come in heavier than last time and be closer to 250lbs, and go for Usyk early, and hope to catch the Ukrainian with heavier punches and score an early win.
Usyk though is more than intelligent enough to be prepared for that tactic and he will box smartly, wait for the storm to blow out and get to work, breaking down a rapidly tiring AJ, and getting the stoppage in the second half of the fight. Although if there is a firefight early on, it could be AJ that gets caught by a now bigger Usyk, who also just happens to be one of the best counterpunchers in the business. However, I wouldn’t rule out Joshua scoring a knockdown, even though Usyk has never visited the floor, so keeping him down could be an entirely different matter. To conclude I recommend two solid bets to play and a much more speculative longer shot which has a small possibility of happening.
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How to watch Oleksandr Usyk v Anthony Joshua 2?
📅 When is Oleksandr Usyk v Anthony Joshua 2? / Saturday, 20th August 2022 from 22:30
🏟 Where is Oleksandr Usyk v Anthony Joshua 2? / King Abdullah Sports City (Jeddah, Saudi Arabia)
📺 What TV channel is Oleksandr Usyk v Anthony Joshua 2 on? / Sky Sports Box Office