Anthony Joshua takes on Oleksandr Usyk on Saturday night, with his world heavyweight titles on the line at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
After reclaiming the IBF, WBA, WBO and IBO belts against Andy Ruiz Jr in December 2019, Joshua retained his titles one year later with a ninth-round stoppage of Kubrat Pulev in front of a limited crowd at Wembley.
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Usyk, meanwhile, has defeated Chazz Witherspoon and Deryk Chisora to become WBO Inter-Continental Heavyweight champion after stepping up from the Cruiserweight division, in which he became only the fourth boxer in history to simultaneously hold the IBF, WBA, WBO and IBO titles (as Joshua currently does in the Heavyweight division, of course).
The bookmakers have installed the Ukrainian as a 9/4 outsider to beat Joshua on Saturday, with the Englishman odds-on 4/11 favourite to retain his titles and remain on track for an epic double-header against Tyson Fury, who faces Deontay Wilder for the third time next month.
Unsurprisingly, Fury has stuck the metaphorical knife into Joshua ahead of Saturday’s bout, claiming that “he’s not so sure about AJ not losing his fight.”
Personally, I see this as little more than mind games. Usyk, who is nicknamed “The Cat” due to his sharp reflexes, is undoubtedly a highly skilled fighter, but I’m not convinced he possesses the power at this level to seriously scare Joshua.
What TV channel is the Joshua fight on and can I live stream it?
- The fight is being shown on TV in the UK, via pay-per-view on Sky Sports Box Office at a cost of £24.95.
- Bet365 will be offering live in play commentary.
Chisora, who was beaten by Usyk via unified decision last October, is in agreement.
“To be honest, [Usyk is] not a scare in the heavyweight division. Physically he’s not strong,” Chisora revealed.
“I ate one of his best shots and it didn’t bother me. His output is good but he has no power.”
Tony Bellew, who is a huge admirer of Usyk after losing to him in the Liverpudlian’s last ever bout three years ago, ultimately agrees, too.
“When it comes to natural, pure boxing, Usyk is the most natural fighter Joshua will ever face. He is the greatest cruiserweight who has ever put on the gloves,” Bellew affirmed.
“But I just think weight divisions exist for a reason. Come rounds seven, eight and nine, he is going to find out why he is not a true heavyweight. Joshua’s speed, power and perseverance will be what catches up with Usyk.”
Personally, I think Bellew has it about nailed in terms of his prediction. Since stepping up in class against his fierce rival Dillian Whyte in 2015, only two of Joshua’s 10 fights have ended prior to Round 7, suggesting this one could go deep into the fight.
Indeed, I believe Usyk has ample defensive ability to push Joshua into the second half of the fight. However, I’m not sure he can follow in Ruiz’s and Joseph Parker’s footsteps by avoiding a knockout blow from AJ, either.
As such, Joshua winning between Rounds 7-12 looks great value to me at 13/5 (Betfair). I expect to see a similarly patient approach to the one which helped him overcome Pulev in round nine last year, with Usyk showing what a true champion he is by putting up stern resistance to a man three inches taller and far heavier than him.
At some point, though, the knockout punch will come. It’s only a matter of time. “Let’s get it on!”
Anthony Joshua to win between Rounds 7-12 @ 13/5 (Betfair / PaddyPower)