The time has come for the most anticipated rematch of our current times, as Oleksandr Usyk (19-0, 13 KOs) and Anthony Joshua (24-2, 22 KOs) enter the ring at the King Abdullah Sports City Arena in Saudi Arabia to run back the World Champions Title fight.
Here the tables turn as Usyk has the upper hand, entering as the champion in defense of the WBA, IBF and WBO titles that he took from Joshua last September via a unanimous points decision from the judges.
Joshua, meanwhile, enters as the underdog, but given his weigh-in on Friday at 244.5lb, four-and-a-half pounds heavier than he was last time and a significant 23lbs heavier than Usyk, it’s clear his intent is to use his superior size to his advantage. He will also be expected to be the more aggressive fighter, as he seeks his third heavyweight world championship to join the ranks of an elite group of fighters that includes Muhammad Ali and Lennox Lewis.
“I’m looking forward to the fight,” said Joshua at the weigh-in. “And I’m ready for 12 rounds.”
Joshua’s strategy is remains to charge forward from the first bell and look to use his towering frame to great advantage over his smaller opponent. The strategy is that this will provide the foundations for him to dictate proceedings and land the majority of shots, or at least the one big one, that brings his 25th victory as a professional boxer.
At 221.5lb in the weigh-in, Usyk is lighter and smaller but still carries his tenacious skill of adapting to the situation and turning the tables in his favor. The 35-year-old champion will be looking to stand up to Joshua’s attack with a defense of sublime movement and technical abilities. His strategy will also be likely to leverage on what he expects is Joshua’s lack of stamina by pushing the fight to go the distance whilst avoiding a big over-hand right.
“We learned each other in the first fight,” Usyk said, with translator’s assistance. “We had enough time to study each other, and this Saturday will be a great, great fight.”
It will indeed be a great fight, however only one man can come out the winner. If Joshua can take advantage of his 6-foot-6 frame to assume the role of the bigger man in the ring, and if he can change his previous erroneous strategy to try to outbox the technically gifted Usyk, then he will be victorious. On the other hand, Usyk’s determination to `win for Ukraine’, where the fight will be streamed live and free-to-air, will be a strong motivator.
The fight is available on DAZN for most countries including Australia which will screen on the 20th at 3pm.