Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, England will be the site of this weekend’s Heavyweight Title showdown as Anthony Joshua of nearby Watford, puts his IBF, WBO and WBA belts up for grabs. Attempting to take them home with him on Saturday, Sept. 25th will be unbeaten southpaw Oleksandr Usyk of Ukraine, the former undisputed Cruiserweight Champion of the world.
Joshua, who won a gold medal as a super heavyweight at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, captured the IBF Heavyweight Crown in his 16th pro bout in 2016 by stopping Charles Martin of America in the second round. He defended it with stoppage wins over Dominic Breazeale and Eric Molina respectively before unifying the belts against WBA ‘Super,’ title holder Wladimir Klitschko.
That April, 2017 bout was also for the vacant IBO Title and it saw Klitschko dropped in the fifth round with Joshua down in the sixth. However, the Briton recovered well and eventually stopped the veteran from Ukraine in the 11th round. With three heavyweight belts now around his waist, Joshua defended them all against Carlos Takam six months later via a tough 10th-round stoppage.
Next up was WBO Champion Joseph Parker of New Zealand in March, 2018 with Joshua earning his fourth title via a unanimous decision. He then defended all four titles against former world champion Alexander Povetkin of Russia in September, 2018 with a seventh-round TKO. However, the roof caved in just nine months later when he fought as a pro for the first time outside of the UK when he faced Andy Ruiz at New York City’s Madison Square Garden.
Both boxers hit the canvas in the third round with Ruiz down first and he then took control and stopped Joshua in the seventh stanza. A rematch took place in Saudi Arabia six months later with Joshua boxing cautiously but doing enough to reclaim his titles via a unanimous decision. Since then, the 31-year-old has defended with a ninth-round KO over Bulgarian veteran Kubrat Pulev last December.
Joshua boasts an impressive 24-1 record with 22 Kos for an 88 per cent knockout ratio. His first 14 pro fights and 16 of his first 18 all ended within the first three rounds but his power hasn’t been quite as evident lately as been forced to box 68 rounds in his last seven contests. Overall, he’s fought 112 rounds since turning pro in 2013.
Joshua’s a modern-era heavyweight which means he’s quite big as he stands 6-feet-6-inches tall and possesses an 82-inch reach. However, he often appears too muscle-bound and robotic and sometimes tires with the passing of each round. In addition, there’s a major question mark regarding his chin as he’s been staggered several times and dropped by Klitschko and the relatively light-hitting Ruiz.
On the bright side, Joshua has good upper body movement and mobility with a stiff, solid jab. Since turning pro he’s faced and beaten several other well-known heavyweights including Dillian Whyte, Kevin Johnson, Matt Skelton and Michael Sprott. He’s also claimed other heavyweight titles as a pro including the WBC International and British Commonwealth Belts.
The 34-year-old Usyk also captured a gold medal at the 2012 Olympics in London as he took home the heavyweight title after competing in Beijing, China in 2008. He also took home bronze and gold medals from the 2009 and 2011 World Amateur Championships respectively. Usyk turned pro in November, 2013 and has compiled a perfect record of 18-0 with 13 Kos so far.
He became the first undisputed Cruiserweight Champion in history in July, 2018 when he downed Murat Gassiev by unanimous decision in the final of the World Boxing Super Series. He left the ring that night with the WBO, IBF, WBA and WBC Cruiserweight Belts after entering it as the WBC and WBO Champion.
Usyk originally captured the WBO Title by beating Krzysztof Glowacki via a unanimous decision in September, 2016. He stopped Thabiso Mchunu in the ninth round three months later in his first defense and then took a unanimous decision against Michael Hunter in April, 2017. He then halted Marco Huck in the 10th round before winning the WBC against Mairis Briedis via majority decision in January, 2018.
Usyk gives up three inches in height to Joshua as he’s 6-feet-3-inches tall and his 78-inch reach means he has a four-inch reach disadvantage as well. He’s boxed 144 rounds since making his pro debut and also has good power in his fists with a 72.2 per cent knockout ratio. However, he’s had to go the distance in five of his last nine fights and will be fighting in the heavyweight division as a pro for just the third time this weekend after uninspiring wins over Chazz Witherspoon and Dereck Chisora in his first two outings at the weight.
The bookmakers at bet365 favor Joshua in this bout as he’s listed at -275 to win with Usyk at +225 and a draw at +2000. several other bets on the fight can be made at bet365 such as method of victory, round betting and knockdowns etc.