Hunter believes Oleksandr Usyk could give Joshua problems
By Tim Royner: Anthony Joshua’s second reign as the IBF/WBA/WBO heavyweight champion could be a short one once he faces his WBO mandatory challenger Oleksandr Usyk. Heavyweight contender Michael Hunter believes that Usyk has the boxing skills, and mobility to defeat Joshua by decision.
The World Boxing Organization already ordered Joshua (23-1, 21 KOs) to defend against the unbeaten former undisputed cruiserweight champion Usyk (17-0, 13 KOs) next, but it’s believed that AJ will vacate the title and defend against his IBF mandatory Kubrat Pulev next in April.
That’s the easier fight for Joshua against the 38-year-old Pulev, who isn’t the same guy he once was.
If Joshua vacates his WBO title, then Usyk will fight for the belt against likely Joseph Parker. Both of them are with the same promotional company as Joshua in being signed with Matchroom Boxing.
Usyk won’t be weighing in the 280s, and he’ll have excellent mobility. So if Joshua chooses to stay on the move against Usyk, it won’t work as well for him as it did against the 283 lb Ruiz.
Hunter: Usyk can beat Joshua on points
“I think he’s one of the best in the game right now for sure,” said Hunter to Sky Sports Boxing about Usyk. “That hasn’t been seen just yet [how well Usyk will do at heavyweight]. But I think he can make the right adjustments, and I think he can still give anybody problems to any of the weight classes he goes into. I do see him having some success.
“I’m not sure if it’ll be the same success that he had at cruiserweight, but I do see him being very successful at heavyweight as well,” Hunter continued in talking about Usyk. “I think Usyk would get him on points just off the legs, the movement, and the southpaw stance, the guard. He has a very good guard.
“I think he [Joshua] should do what he did in the second fight [with Andy Ruiz], because he’s the bigger guy,” said Hunter in speculating how Joshua will do against Oleksandr. “Usyk would have to step to him. That would be interesting to see though,” said Hunter.
It would be in Joshua’s best interest to face Usyk as soon as possible, because right now he’s not had much time to get acclimated to the heavyweight division. Usyk has had one fight in the weight class in stopping 38-year-old Chazz Witherspoon in the 7th round last October. He didn’t look that good in that fight. But if Usyk gets another fight under his belt against the likes of Joseph Parker or Dereck Chisora, he could gain enough experience in the division to give Joshua problems.
Hunter is way off in comparing Usyk to Andy Ruiz in predicting how a fight with Joshua would go for him. Ruiz was badly overweight in the rematch with Joshua, and he didn’t have the foot speed to deal with his movement.
Hunter thinks Ruiz put weight on after arriving in Saudi Arabia
“I was in camp with hm, and I was able to spar him quite a few times,” said Hunter about Ruiz. “And I didn’t at all [see Ruiz having a weight problem]…I thought he was doing exceptionally well, and I felt he was doing just as good in camp. He did gain a lot of weight. Even during camp, he wasn’t that heavy.
“From what I have seen, he wasn’t gaining too much weight during camp. I thought that had a lot to do with it,” said Hunter about Ruiz coming over to Saudi Arabia.
“When you go to those places, usually you have only a week. You gain a little weight. You’re trying to adjust to the time, and you’re not in the full training mode as you would be prior to camp. As a heavyweight, you do end up gaining some weight. I just think being over there and having 2 weeks, it didn’t do him any [good]. Putting on so much weight in such a short period of time, it definitely, it’s definitely going to do something to you,” said Hunter about Ruiz.
Hunter trained with Ruiz during camp for his rematch with Joshua, and he says he wasn’t overweight at that time. It’s hard to believe that Ruiz put all that extra weight on in the 2 weeks after he arrived in Saudi Arabia recently. If that was the case, Ruiz should have revealed that after the fight, but he didn’t do that.