HEAVYWEIGHT TITLEHOLDER ANTHONY JOSHUA RETURNS TO THE RING AGAINST FORMER CRUISERWEIGHT CHAMP OLEKSANDR USYK ON SATURDAY IN LONDON.
ANTHONY JOSHUA (24-1, 22 KOs) VS. OLEKSANDR USYK (18-0, 13 KOs)
- Date: Saturday, Sept. 25
- Time: 10 a.m. (main event approximately 2 p.m.)
- Where: Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London
- TV/Stream: DAZN
- Division: Heavyweight
- Weights: Joshua 240 pounds, Usyk 221.25
- At stake: Joshua’s IBF, WBA and WBO titles
- Pound-for-pound ranking: None
- Odds: Joshua 2½-1 favorite (average of multiple outlets)
- Also on the card: Lawrence Okolie vs. Dilan Prasovic, cruiserweights (for Okolie’s WBO title); Callum Smith vs. Lenin Castillo, light heavyweights
- Prediction: Joshua UD 12
- Background: Joshua was expected to meet British rival and fellow titleholder Tyson Fury in his next fight, which arguably would be the biggest possible event in boxing. Instead, after Fury was forced to fight Deontay Wilder a third time, Joshua will defend against mandatory challenger Usyk. Joshua is two fights removed from the biggest nightmare of his career, a stunning seventh-round knockout loss against Andy Ruiz Jr. in June 2019 that cost him his belts and raised questions about his toughness. He responded by outpointing an ill-prepared Ruiz six months to regain his titles and right his ship. He then blew out Kubrat Pulev in nine rounds this past December, his most-recent fight. Usyk is trying to follow in the footsteps of Evander Holyfield and David Haye, cruiserweight titleholders who went on to become heavyweight champion. The 2012 Olympic gold medalist from Ukraine has fought twice as a heavyweight, stopping Chazz Witherspoon in seven rounds in October 2019 and defeating Derek Chisora by a decision in a competitive fight a year later. He has the ability to compete with Joshua but a size disadvantage might be an issue, although his handlers insist he has grown into the division. Joshua is 6-foot-6, 240-plus pounds; Usyk is 6-3 and last fought at 217¼. The winner on Saturday could face the winner of the Oct. 9 Fury-Wilder fight.