Anthony Joshua will be back in the ring for the first time since December 2020 in London on Saturday (today) when he puts his WBA, WBC, WBO and IBO heavyweight titles on the line against undefeated southpaw Ukrainian, Oleksandr Usyk, the WBO mandatory challenger, at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Joshua has recorded 24 wins and a loss in 25 bouts since he turned professional in 2013 and the loss came in the form of a massive upset when Andy Ruiz Jr. claimed an against-all-odds victory at Madison Square Garden in New York in 2019.
The most difficult fight of Joshua’s career is against Usyk tonight which will be Joshua’s third fight on English soil in the last three years after his wins over Alexander Povetkin at the Tottenham Hotspur stadium in 2018 and Wladimir Klitschko.
Speaking ahead of the bout, veteran boxing coach Joe Mensah said Joshua’s 11th consecutive world title fight won’t go easy for him.
“Joshua has learnt his lessons from underrating people from his defeats to Andy Ruiz.Jnr,” Mensah said.
“Usky has showed in the cruiserweight division that he is a great boxer and that is why Joshua has not shown any form of complacency.
“He has all within him to beat Usky but he must be patient and pay attention more to his weaknesses which I believe his team must have discussed with him.”
Jerry Okorodudu, a former Nigerian boxer and member of the country’s contingent to Los Angeles ’84 Olympic Games, said, “Joshua will win no doubt but he must pull him out with good jabs and uppercuts.
“It is going to be tough for Joshua though, but I believe that with the way he has trained for the bout his strength and tremendous punching power will give him the edge.”
Usyk has been an elite fighter for long and he is now at his absolute peak and that is what makes him the toughest rival of Joshua’s career. His strength are his movement and his IQ, factors which mean he has not lost since he was an amateur a decade ago.
“I think, at first, it will be chess,” Usyk said.
“Every fight makes history and me and Anthony will make another step in history,” said Usyk. “It will be something people will be talking about, will remember and will be watching on television.”
Joshua who is bidding to become only the third boxer to win world titles at cruiserweight and heavyweight also said on Friday after a tense final stare-down at the weigh-in that he hopes to win with more ease.
“Now I should be able to do the 12 rounds easily because weight does make a difference.
“As long as you are loose, nimble. Loose and heavy, relaxed shots. I should be good.
“I was heavier and doing it so, now that I’m lighter, I should be able to do it with more ease.”
“There is no game-plan. Just win. Because you never know what is going to happen when the first bell goes.”
“Respect? Fear? It’s just a fight. I’m not someone who will be disrespectful unless someone is disrespectful to me.
“I respect the man. He has achieved phenomenal things.”