Britain’s world heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua has said that his heavyweight title defence fight against Ukrainian challenger Oleksandr Usyk could be his most difficult fight in years. Joshua said that it would be his biggest challenge since beating Usyk’s compatriot Wladimir Klitschko in an epic match at the Webley Stadium, London in April 2017.
Referring to the Klitschko bout, the Brit said, “It definitely ranks up there. The biggest threat he brings to me is probably the southpaw stance. He’s fought many men that are orthodox and he’s used to seeing guys like me throughout his whole career.”
He said, “I’ve only trained for him the last three months. But, during my training for a southpaw, I’ve actually learnt where my feet need to be positioned and how to control a southpaw. He’s had years of listening to these southpaws beating up orthodox fighters and I’ve got to reverse the trend and be an orthodox fighter who beats up a southpaw.”
The defending champion agreed to the notion that there was a testing psychological dimension to this fight. Joshua said that Usyk will enter the ring with a belief to win, despite their difference in size and heavyweight experience. He said, “Definitely. As you said, physical advantage is one thing, but it doesn’t make the world’s tallest man heavyweight champion of the world. He’s coming into the ring confident. But so am I. You know boxing. You have to be aggressive and beat that confidence out of your opponent. He’s confident, his team are confident but I feel like it’s easy to watch me on YouTube. When you are in front of someone it’s a completely different ball game. On [Saturday] he’ll get to see what my spirit’s about, my lineage and where I’ve come from.”
Joshua lost his world heavyweight titles to Andy Ruiz Jr in a stunning stoppage at the Madison Square Garden in June 2019. His opponent Usyk; however, will face Joshua with an undefeated record. Joshua won back his belts in the rematch six months later but that solitary loss in eight years is a blemish on the Brit’s career. The loss will remain a constant reminder that heavyweight boxing is a risky business.
The showpiece bout will be Usyk’s only third fight as a heavyweight but his pedigree is unquestioned. Since both boxers won Olympic gold medals at the London Games 2012 in different divisions, Usyk has compiled an 18-0 record. Earlier in 2018, he made history when became the first being the first cruiserweight in history to hold all four major world championships; the WBA, WBC, IBF and WBO titles.
Anthony Joshua will be risking his WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight titles against Usyk at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on 25 September.