Oleksandr Usyk vs Anthony Joshua Fight Analysis & Predictions

Three years Joshua’s senior at 35, Usyk, has a lot on his plate with the recent turmoil in Ukraine. As one of the nation’s foremost sportsmen, he got involved, and you wonder if this has taken any attention off his preparation, as one could well imagine it might. I just would be hesitant to bank on that if I were a possible Joshua backer in this fight. It’s going to come down to smarts and tactics and who can execute their plan better.

The first fight started with Usyk using his southpaw jab and precise combos to keep Joshua in stitches. In the middle rounds, Joshua bridged the gap, saw his jab start to land, as well as some power punches. But Usyk recomposed himself, and by the late rounds, he was getting the better of it, opening up and even rattling Joshua with some straight left hands. There were some troubling aspects of the fight for Joshua that don’t bode well for the rematch.

When “AJ” was able to land his right hand, Usyk was able to take it. In fact, if looking at who was the more hurt fighter in the fight, the nod may go to Joshua, who appeared to be in trouble at least twice in the fight. Joshua has this image as a power-puncher, but he needs the right geography to make it work. On the inside, when exchanging, he doesn’t always fare well, as we saw in his first fight with Ruiz and against Usyk. Joshua’s game is to use his size, land that ramrod jab, and then land that long-range right hand. And then, when his opponent is discombobulated, he moves in and tries to finish the job. At root, though, he’s a long-range fighter. And against a cat-like tactician in Usyk, that may not be the best matchup for Joshua.

In order for Joshua to gain a greater measure of success in this bout, he will need some cooperation from Usyk. A more stationary target will give him a chance to unleash his uppercut. He might be able to time Usyk better with the right hand or be quicker on the trigger with his jab. And don’t underestimate his move to a new trainer Robert Garcia, as perhaps he can breathe some new life into Joshua’s career. It has happened before where a new trainer comes in between rematches, and we see a completely different look from the loser the second time around. But again, the version of Usyk we saw the first time around is just going to be hard on Anthony Joshua, regardless of who is in his corner or what becomes of his tactics and strategy.

Usyk brings a certain level of smarts, cunning, strategy, and technique that is unusual in a division that is often defined by brawn. And his sharpness allows him to be dangerous, despite his lack of overall size in this context and that he’s not predisposed to look for KO shots. Against guys like Joshua who rely on size and power, it’s not a great fit. For someone to beat the likes of Usyk, you’d almost opt for more of a technician and someone who lets their skills do the talking—more of a Tyson Fury type and not so much the likes of Joshua, Wilder, and others who rely on their punch. And that’s not to paint Joshua as some lumbering oaf. He has skills and can’t be counted out, but I’ll defer to the better boxer and take Usyk in the rematch.

My Prediction to Win the Fight:
I’m betting on Oleksandr Usyk at -200 betting odds. The Bovada line has some upside for a fighter who won pretty clearly last time against a champion who wasn’t overlooking him. Skills pay the bills in this business, and if Usyk can move well and take some shots like he did a year ago, he should be able to navigate his way to the winner’s circle once again.

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