By: Hans Themistode
In the eyes of many, Anthony Joshua should walk away from his heavyweight showdown against Oleksandr Usyk with his world titles tucked safely underneath his arm. But while most believe he’ll take care of business against the former cruiserweight champion this Saturday night at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in the United Kingdom, those same believers are convinced that his only path to victory is via stoppage.
With Usyk being known as a master boxer, question marks have surrounded the Ukrainian’s ability to take a punch. Although the former Olympic gold medalist dominated the cruiserweight division, winning every world title en route to becoming an undisputed champion, he now competes one weight class higher in the heavyweight division.
Even with the presence of bigger men, Usyk has made a seamless transition, picking up wins against Chazz Witherspoon and Dereck Chisora.
As Joshua continues to implement his game to defeat the Ukrainian, the 31-year-old unified titlist has grown tired of hearing everyone determine his chances of winning are based solely on his one-punch knockout power. In Joshua’s mind, he’s fully convinced that no matter where the fight takes place, he has the upper hand.
“I can outbox him,” said Joshua during their final press conference. “of course I can. And I can out-strength him. There’s not one factor that can determine a fight.”
For the better part of the past decade and a half, Usyk has rarely, if ever, been outboxed. The quirky giant dominated the competition as an amateur, winning an Olympic gold medal in the 2012 games and picking up several notable wins along the way against the likes of Joe Joyce and Artur Beterbiev.
Joshua, while an Olympic gold medalist in his own right, is known for ending fights in the blink of an eye as opposed to outboxing his opposition. That said, the two-time heavyweight belt holder has shown off his boxing ability throughout his career.
In March of 2018, Joshua saw his 20 consecutive knockout streak come to an end against a cautious Joseph Parker. Despite failing to end the fight before the final bell, Joshua still cruised to a unanimous decision victory.
Fast forward one year later, and Joshua proved once again that he could do much more than rely on his freakish power. After suffering the first defeat of his career to Andy Ruiz Jr., Joshua would win their immediate rematch six months later. On the night, Joshua avoided long drawn-out exchanges and instead, opted to box and move.
Considering that the British native is highly capable of using both his brains and brawn to win a fight, he feels extremely confident that whether Usyk wants to bang in the middle of the ring or have more of a tactical chess match, the end results will be the same.
“I’ll use my strength, but it is a boxing match. I love boxing, the sweet science.”