‘Anthony Joshua is likely to weigh-in at a career lightest!’ – Spencer Oliver
By Jeff Aronow: Anthony Joshua is expected to come in his career lightest weight this Saturday night when he defends his IBF, WBA & WBO heavyweight titles against Oleksandr Usyk at the Tottenham Hotspurs Stadium in London.
The lowest weight of Joshua’s eight-year pro career is 229 lbs that he weighed for his match against Hrvoje Kisicek in November 2013, and he obliterated him in two rounds.
It’s hard to imagine Joshua being able to get down to below 229 at this stage in his career, but it’s possible. In the 2012 Olympics, Joshua was at 220 lbs and had more speed and a better work rater than he’d shown in the pro ranks.
It’s vital that Joshua, 31, come into the fight with the unbeaten former undisputed cruiserweight Usyk (18-0, 13 KOs) at the highest weight possible for him because he’s got to match his speed somehow.
Also, it’s critical that Joshua (24-1, 22 KOs) not run out of petrol along the way like he’s done in the past against Dillian Whyte, Wladimir Klitschko, Andy Ruiz Jr., and Alexander Povetkin.
Usyk has too much technical ability and ring smarts for Joshua to afford to gas out on Saturday night.
Two Olympic gold medalists battle this Saturday
“He was the undisputed cruiserweight champion. He won the cruiserweight title in his ninth,” said Spencer Oliver to Sky Sports News about Oleksandr Usyk.
“This guy had 350 amateur fights, winning 335. Boxed in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. He didn’t win there but came back to the London Olympics and won a gold medal there in 2012 with Anthony Joshua at heavyweight.
“Anthony Joshua won it at super heavyweight. They’ll be making history at Tottenham, two gold medalists in the same Olympics for the unified heavyweight world title.
“This is set to be a cracker. This is all about Oleksandr Usyk. With his slick boxing skills, can he stay out of the way of the shots from Anthony Joshua to make this fight difficult because I believe if he can get past the sixth round mark, he can make things really difficult for Anthony Joshua.
“As we saw previously with Oleksandr Usyk, we saw when he knocked out Tony Bellew, and we also saw when he boxed Derek Chisora.
“Bellew was doing well at the beginning of the fight, but then he figured him out and took him out. Then he did the same with Dereck Chisora.
“Chisora was in the fight early, and then he got over it and got into his boxing skills and make it a comfortable win for himself,” said Oliver.
Interestingly, two Olympic gold medalists from the 2012 London Games will be going at it in Tottenham Hotspurs Stadium on Saturday night.
Oleksandr likes being the underdog
“Joshua has to go out there and make a statement,” Oliver continued. “I think he needs to use his size, his power, his explosive power and really stamp his authority on Usyk early.
“But Usyk isn’t worried about boxing in other people’s backyards. He’s done it against Michael Hunter in America, [Murat] Gassiev, [Mairis] Briedis, Derek Chisora here in England, and Tony Bellew as well.
“This guy feeds on boxing in the other guys’ backyard. Coming in front of 60,000 fans in Tottenham, he will note intimidated.
“When he arrives here today, I think you’ll find out what his character is all about. He’s a crazy guy, and he likes being the underdog. He was never troubled at all [at cruiserweight].
“He [Usyk] sort of cruised through the division. He won his first world title in his ninth fight.
“That record was previously held by Evander Holyfield, who was another great cruiserweight who went up to heavyweight and dominated on the heavyweight scene.
“So he’s done everything he can do at cruiserweight, the undisputed cruiserweight champion,” Oliver said.
Usyk seems to get motivated when he’s fighting in his opponent’s backyard, and he likes to hear the cheering for his opposition. On Saturday, Usyk might be gleeful with joy at hearing all the applause Joshua is getting.
If Usyk can raise his game in reaction to the crowd, it could be a long night for Joshua.
Joshua expected to come in at his career lightest
“He hasn’t looked particularly great at heavyweight. Against Chazz Witherspoon in his heavyweight debut, he didn’t look particularly great.
“Didn’t really impress against Derek Chisora either, but he’s had time now to develop into a heavyweight. I think he’s weighing 16 1/2 stone.
“Speaking to Anthony Joshua’s team earlier in the way, they said he’s probably going to come in at his career lightest at around 17 stone.
“So there’s not going to be much weight difference when they step through those ropes. The questions are, will that extra weight slow Usyk down or make him a better fighter?
“Anthony Joshua, I know he’ll be more explosive. There’s a lot of ifs and maybes surrounding this fight.
“There’s a lot of us who have a good idea of how the fight is going to go, but none of us really know until the first bell rings.
“Oleksandr Usyk as a cruiserweight was untouchable. Can he do that at heavyweight? That remains to be seen,” said Oliver.
17 stone isn’t quite the lowest career weight for Joshua, as he came in at 229-lbs for the fight with that little-known journeyman Hrvoje Kisicek in 2013.
Interestingly, Joshua’s weight immediately shot up a whopping 11 pounds to 241 lbs only three months later in February 2014.
Did Joshua eat a lot during those three months because it’s physically impossible to pack on 11 lbs of muscle in just three months.
You can’t pack on that much muscle in 90 days. It takes a lot longer to put on 11 lbs of natural muscle. Once Joshua’s weight hit the 240+ lb area, that’s when he started slowing down, and his work rate suffered.
He wasn’t the nonstop puncher that we’d seen in the 2012 London Olympics.
In Joshua’s last fight against Kubrat Pulev last December, he weighed 240 lbs, and he fought well but not out of the world great.
Against Andy Ruiz Jr. in their rematch in December 2019, Joshua weighed 237 lbs and was light enough to move nonstop for 12 rounds.
That was a good weight for Joshua to use for him to stay away from Ruiz the entire bout, but he was still getting hit. If Ruiz wasn’t so out of shape and heavy, he likely would have gotten to Joshua and tested out his chin.
Joshua doesn’t have to worry about Usyk’s power the way he did with Ruiz because he doesn’t pack a big punch like Andy, and he’s not a combination puncher.
What Joshua has to worry about is not gassing out because Usyk will take advantage of it if he sees AJ huffing & puffing.
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