Should Anthony Joshua fight a southpaw?
By Gav Duthie: Given the circumstances in Ukraine, AJ is getting a free pass not to fight Oleksandr Usyk. Understandably what is going on in the WBA, IBF, and WBO champions country puts boxing far down his list of priorities.
AJ would have been heavily criticized for avoiding Usyk, but under these circumstances, the situation is completely understandable. Many articles have already discussed who he should face.
Wilder would be the biggest fight out there, and a domestic dust-up with Joe Joyce has also been mentioned. Maybe even Tyson’s cousin Hughie Fury could be a shout.
Of course, given Joshua’s profile, he can’t have any tune-ups. You can forget the Wach’s, Duhaupas, and Kuzmin’s of this world; every AJ fight needs blockbuster appeal.
To put a slightly different slant on it, why doesn’t AJ add to his preparation for Usyk on his return by fighting a southpaw. It is impossible to create the footwork and ring IQ, but it certainly wouldn’t do any harm.
The southpaw options based on (Boxrec top 50)
#11 Luis Ortiz 33-2
#14 Otto Wallin 23-1
#19 Charles Martin 28-3-1
#28 Jerry Forrest 28-4-2
#29 Zhileil Zhang 23-0-1
#34 Demsey Mckean 21-0
#35 Mike Balogun 18-0
#38 Zhan Kossobutskiy 17-0
Let’s be honest; it isn’t a great bunch to choose from, so he may not go down this road. Luis Ortiz, in fairness, is one of the bigger names out there and has a good ring IQ.
He looked vulnerable in his last fight against Charles Martin, but he deserves one last big fight. Ortiz is like the Shavers of the 70s and Ruddock of the 90s, hugely popular, and he could definitely cause AJ a few problems.
Otto Wallin has only lost to Tyson Fury and is a well-skilled operator. Joshua has defeated him twice in the amateurs, but it is a matchup that maybe wouldn’t excite, but it is acceptable.
Wallin promoter Dimitry Salita feels DAZN owe him a fight given the Dillian Whyte fight cancellation. Charles Martin was already destroyed by Joshua, and Jerry Forrest simply isn’t a big enough game despite two good performances in draws against Zhilei Zhang and Michael Hunter, respectively recently.
Zhilei Zhang has agreed to fight Filip Hrgovic in a final IBF eliminator earning $290,000 as 40% of the purse bid and would have been a good opponent for Joshua. They have fought previously as AJ beat him in a close fight at the 2012 Olympics.
Demsey Mckean is a Dazn fighter, and the Australian is looking for good exposure this year. To be honest, he is as close to Usyk as you are going to get. He isn’t as polished, but his style is similar but with a lower guard.
He was AJ’s most high-profile sparring partner for the Usyk fight. The last two wouldn’t be acceptable. Mike Balogun had a great win over the late Tommy Morrison’s son Trey Lippe, so the former Linebacker is doing well, but this is a step too far.
The Kazakh Zhan Kossobutskiy has a great record of being undefeated and stopping all but one of his 17 wins, but he is a slow plodder, and without a big name, it is a pointless fight.
It is a fine idea to get extra southpaw practice, but in reality, the opposition is scarce. The fans would probably only accept Luis Ortiz as a big fight, maybe Otto Wallin as an ok fight, and although I like Demsey Mckean, it would be a tough sell.
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