COVID-19 caused a lot of disruptions to sports all around the world. We missed out on so much we were looking forward to, but unlike some sports, boxing returned to the fray earlier than most. Fights were taking place in remote locations, with fighters and their staff isolating in their training camps.
It wasn’t quite the same without the big crowds, but it was better than nothing. But now that fans are returning, we’re seeing more and more big fights showing up on cards across the globe. One of the biggest upcoming fights we have to look forward to in September is Anthony Joshua versus Oleksandr Usyk.
Titled as Dare to Do and The Perfect Storm, the fight takes place on Saturday 25th September in Joshua’s home country, at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London. Sadly, it wasn’t the fight everyone wanted to see, because the real fight the fans have been calling for is Anthony Joshua versus Tyson Fury. But it could well be the case that whoever wins this, will go on to face Fury in their next fight.
The reason that Joshua, who is the WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO heavyweight champion, had to fight Usyk, was because he is the next WBO heavyweight mandatory challenger. And if Joshua did not take part, then he would’ve forfeited one of his many titles. Which is part of what is special about the potential fight with Fury because he holds the remaining titles, and a clash between the two would see all the titles in the division unified.
But Usyk is not to be overlooked or underestimated in this fight. He may not hold any of the titles in the division, and many may be writing him off already, but he has earned his right to this fight. Plus, previous to stepping up to heavyweight, he was a former undisputed cruiserweight champion, so he definitely has the skill to compete at the highest level.
The question is though, will he be able to replicate his form at the lower weight class in the heavyweight division? And so far, he has held his own and won the challenges laid before him, hency why he is now the mandatory challenger for the WBO title. So he clearly has the ability to get to the top, but beating one of the best heavyweight boxers around will be a tougher task than Usyk has faced before.
There are already many who believe that Joshua will be too much for Usyk, having spent his entire career at his weight class. But whilst others note that he may be the favourite, they’re not writing off Usyk just yet, as Joy Joyce stated in an interview he did with Boxing Special: “I think he [Joshua] is too big and too strong for Usyk, but I’m not writing off Usyk because he’s so skilled, and he’s a great boxer too.”
And he would be right not to write him off just yet, because he has one thing that Joshua no longer does, an unbeaten record in the heavyweight division. That’s because Joshua went in underprepared when he faced Andy Ruiz Jr. and ended up having the fight stopped in the seventh round when Ruiz knocked Joshua to the floor twice in the seventh round. It was an upset that shocked the world of boxing.
But Joshua came back, and fought Ruiz Jr. in a rematch, and this time, he managed to get the better of his opponent to reclaim the titles he lost. And it was a lesson that Joshua had to learn from, to not underestimate his opponents. Which he will likely not be doing when he enters the ring in Tottenham against the undefeated Usyk, who has 18 fights, 18 wins, and 13 of those by way of knockout.
It is tipped to be one of the fights of the year, and will be a great spectacle on show. And you can catch the story of how both fighters got to this point in the video below:
As for who will come out on top, it’s a tough one to call. Joshua does have the advantage of height and reach over his opponent, but it wouldn’t be the first time that Joshua has been rocked.
He has improved so much since his last loss though, and he’s entering the form of his life. Plus, he’ll have the determination to get through this and hopefully set up the fight we all want to see versus Tyson Fury. But should Usyk win, it could be a completely different fight we see, with either Usyk taking on Fury instead, or Joshua wanting a rematch before the Fury fight happens.
Either way, it’ll be a fantastic contest between two of the division’s top competitors.