Anthony Joshua wants to ‘outskill’ Oleksandr Usyk – says Eddie Hearn

By Boxing News - 09/05/2021 - Comments

By Max Schramm: Anthony Joshua wants to beat challenger Oleksandr Usyk with his technical skills rather than relying on his superior size when they meet in the headliner this month on September 25th at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, in London, England.

Joshua’s technical skills must be up to par for his fight with Usyk (18-0, 13 KOs) because the Ukrainian fighter is too talented for AJ to run over like a truck using his size alone to win. It may prove to be difficult for Joshua to ‘out-skill’ Usyk the way that Hearn wants him to because he’s always been technically flawed.

We’ve seen in the past that Joshua struggle with cardio issues when he’s tried for knockouts. He got away with gassing out against Dillian Whyte, Wladimir Klitschko and Alexander Povetkin.

In Joshua’s loss to Andy Ruiz Jr. in their first fight in June 2019, he was exhausted after hurting the American. Ruiz Jr. took advantage of it and dropped him.

Joshua (24-1, 22 KOs) is leaning down slightly, but not as much as some boxing fans think.

According to Hearn, Joshua (24-1, 22 KOs) will weigh close to the same amount he did for his second fight with Andy Ruiz Jr. in December 2019 and his last title defense against Kubrat Pulev in 2021.

Usyk best-skilled fighter Joshua has faced

“Skillwise, he’s definitely the best fighter he’s faced,” said Eddie Hearn to Secondsout about Usyk being the best technical fighter Joshua will have faced.
Image: Anthony Joshua wants to 'outskill' Oleksandr Usyk - says Eddie Hearn

“I mean, he’s a pound-for-pound top five fighter. Powerwise in the division, he’s [Joshua] fought some big punchers. Dillian Whyte, Klitschko, Andy Ruiz as well and many others.

“[Kubrat] Pulev can punch as well. I don’t think Usyk carries the power of those guys, but he still carries power. It can be awkward this fight. It can be tricky.

“I don’t think Joshua buys into the ‘Too big, too strong.’ He doesn’t want to rely on his size in this fight. He wants to not only out-skill Usyk, but he wants to be able to compete with him on that level.

“I believe he will as well. This is a dangerous fight, and I hope when AJ wins, they give him the credit he deserves because I think his resume is second to none,” said Hearn.

It’s good that Joshua is working on his cardio for this fight because he must come in as low as possible so that he doesn’t fade.

We saw what happened when British fighters Tony Bellew and Dereck Chisora ran out of fuel against Usyk.

Hearn talks about Joshua’s weight

“He didn’t look that lean yesterday, but he’s just a unit, isn’t he?” said Hearn to Boxing Social on Joshua, having trimmed down muscle for the Usyk fight.

“I don’t know what weight he’ll be, but my guess is he looks a similar kind of weight as the last [Andy] Ruiz fight or the Pulev fight. It’s more about being boxing-ready.

“I think back in the day, a lot of the training was focused around my explosive stuff and lifting and stuff like that. Now it’s more focused on boxing.

“It’s the ultimate mentality because that’s what you do in the ring, and I think it’s very smart what they’ve been working on. I didn’t see him with his top off, but he looks bloody big to me,” said Hearn.

Joshua is looking very lean right now, and he might be around 230 at the most. He doesn’t look like he’s at 237, which is the weight he weighed for his rematch with Ruiz in December 2019.

There’s risk involved for Joshua if he fights at 230 or below, given that he hasn’t fought at that low of weight in eight years since 2013.