Joshua must figure out Usyk’s southpaw stance
By William Lloyd: Anthony Joshua has two months to figure out how to solve the attacking angles of his southpaw opponent Oleksandr Usyk ahead of their fight on September 25th at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, in North London, UK.
This isn’t the fight that Joshua was hoping to take, as he wanted to fight WBC champion Tyson Fury on August 14th for the undisputed championship.
Unfortunately, that fight fell apart when Fury lost his arbitration case with former WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder.
If you’re Joshua, there could be a bit of a letdown going from fighting Fury to facing Usyk, who isn’t nearly as popular worldwide and is given almost no chance to win by the fans and oddsmakers.
Usyk will try to wear Joshua down
Perhaps more important than figuring out how to deal with the 6’3″ Usyk’s southpaw stance will be for Joshua to handle the fast pace he’ll be setting.
Usyk beat Tony Bellew and Mairis Briedis by pushing a fast pace, wearing them down to the point where they couldn’t defend themselves.
Unless Usyk’s recent weight gain prograis has eroded his stamina, he’s going to be forcing Joshua to fight hard for three minutes of every round for as long as their fight lasts on September 25th.
Once Joshua is fatigued, Usyk will use one of his crazy angles of attack to land a big left hand to put him down. It’s the same thing we saw when Usyk fought Bellew.
Joshua (24-1, 22 KOs) hasn’t had to face many southpaws during his eight-year professional career, and certainly no one of Usyk’s caliber. That could be a problem for the 2012 Olympic gold medalist Joshua.
While many boxing fans are already writing the former undisputed cruiserweight champion Usyk (18-0, 13 KOs), saying he’s too small & weak, he’s got a very chance of dethroning Joshua if he can get to his chin.
Andy Ruiz Jr stopped Joshua in 2019, and he’s not the biggest puncher. To hurt AJ, you’ve got to hit him with shots he doesn’t see coming and isn’t expecting.
You can bet that the 34-year-old Usyk will be fighting well above his paygrade when he gets in there with Joshua, knowing what’s on the line if he wins.
Beating Joshua will earn Usyk a second big payday against him and possibly a shot at the winner of the October 9th match between WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder.
Joshua insists he’s better than Usyk
“He’s good, but I’m better. Understanding angles, where you are when you finish punching, where shots are coming from,” said Joshua to Sky Sports.”Everything is in reverse with a southpaw.
“Even though I’m fighting a southpaw, I should be able to find ways and see gaps to exploit each of my opponents,” Joshua continued.
You’d find many boxing fans that would argue that Usyk is a better technical fighter than Joshua and a lot craftier. It’s irrefutable that Usyk has a superior engine than Joshua, who has gassed out many times in his career.
Joshua can’t afford to fade against Usyk on September 25th because he’ll land one of his hard left-hand shots to put him down. We saw what happened with Tony Bellew when he gassed out in his fight with Usyk three years ago in 2018.
Usyk nailed Bellew with a huge left-hand shot to knock him out in the eighth round. Even though Bellew had better hand speed and power than Usyk, he was worn down by the fast pace that he set and eventually stopped.
“He is a great challenger for the heavyweight titles. I’m looking to do a good job, to handle business, because I have my eyes set on other things,” said Joshua.
“He has had a long, vast amateur career. We have been on the same trajectory as professionals.”
It’s not a good sign that Joshua is talking openly about having his eyes on “other things,” as that suggests that he’s looking past Usyk towards a match against the winner of the Fury vs. Wilder III fight.
One would think that Joshua had already learned from his embarrassing defeat at the hands of underdog Andy Ruiz Jr in June 2019 the importance of not overlooking a foe.
But it appears that Joshua can’t resist looking beyond this fight with Usyk, and he could pay the ultimate price by going down to another humiliating defeat.
Aj is not a solid champion
Joshua is a good heavyweight, but he’s not a solid champion like greats from the past. Muhammad Ali, Larry Holmes, and Joe Louis were superior champions than Joshua during the height of their respective careers, and you could almost guarantee that they would win each time they defended their titles.
With Joshua, you don’t know for sure if he will win because of his shaky punch resistance and stamina problems.
Those are things that have proven to be resistance to change, no matter how hard Joshua has attempted to improve them. Joshua hasn’t shown that he’s reliable as a champion yet.
“Anthony Joshua and Oleksandr Usyk to meet on September 25th. This fight will happen in London,” said Max Kellerman to Max on Boxing on ESPN.
“Joshua last fought Kubrat Pulev and won in a KO in the ninth last September. This will be Usyk’s third fight at heavyweight. Recently, he beat Derek Chisora by a decision last October.
“Both fighters [Joshua and Usyk] won gold medals in the 2012 Olympics. Usyk is the smaller man, and Joshua is a super heavyweight. But Usyk has been a very successful cruiserweight.
“Other than [Evander] Holyfield, he is the second greatest cruiserweight behind Evander Holyfield. Usyk is a slick boxer, a lot of range and height for a cruiserweight.
“Less so for a heavyweight, especially super heavyweight monsters nowadays. A lot of people thought Joshua would avoid this fight. Hats off to him for taking it.
“Hats off to Usyk for campaigning at heavyweight and giving it a shot. I think this is really an interesting heavyweight fight.
“And as far as fights go and hurdles between now and Fury and Joshua, you could do a lot worse than Fury-Wilder and Joshua-Usyk,” said Kellerman.
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