Anthony Joshua risks his world titles against Oleksandr Usyk tonight, but will Britain’s heavyweight star emerge victorious? The Panel have made their predictions…
Joshua defends his WBA, IBF and WBO belts against Usyk, the former undisputed cruiserweight king, at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, live on Sky Sports Box Office.
Will Joshua stay on course for an undisputed world title clash against Tyson Fury, or will Usyk pull off a stunning upset?
I’m calling the fight, so I don’t like to nail a prediction straight on. We call it as we see it. I think Anthony Joshua goes into the fight as the favourite and rightly so. He’s a two-time world heavyweight champion now and he’s rebuilt from a defeat.
Oleksandr Usyk has a lot of questions to answer, especially at heavyweight where he hasn’t looked terrific so far against Chazz Witherspoon and Derek Chisora, but he’s a winner and he’s unbeaten. If he gets into a rhythm with that elusive southpaw style, it potentially could be a difficult fight for Joshua.
In reality, what’s probably going to happen is that it will be a tough four to six rounds for Anthony Joshua, but he may take over down the stretch due to that extra strength and power. People also underestimate AJ’s improved boxing ability.
But Usyk can certainly win this fight. It’s a a very dangerous assignment for AJ against Usyk, who has been waiting for 10 years for this fight. He’s a very bright, intelligent man, and he’s studied Joshua meticulously.
Will Usyk win? It’s still a big ask for Usyk to pull it off. That old adage – a good big man beats a good little man. But it’s a very hard fight to call – and that’s why everybody has got to tune in.
Joshua cannot be reckless, but I think he will get to Usyk and possibly stop him late in the fight.
AJ must be careful. He might have a little look in the first round, because he cannot afford to over-reach and get counter punched.
Once the opening round is out of the way, and Joshua has found his distance, I think he’ll go to work and he’ll put the pressure on.
Joshua is a big guy and he hits very hard. I just think he’ll catch Usyk – and when you’ve got someone who hits as hard as Joshua then he’s going to knock him out or stop him.
I think the stoppage will be somewhere between the seventh and ninth round.
I cannot see this fight going the distance. I think AJ backs Usyk up, bullies him, tires him out and then stops him.
I don’t think AJ can catch him early, because Usyk will be very sharp with those southpaw skills. AJ needs to wear him down, with that added weight and size, and then he can really take over.
I believe AJ will smash him. He’ll either knock him out with one punch later on or force a stoppage.
If AJ goes in there and knocks out Usyk, who is a ridiculously good fighter, then he really needs to be respected.
I think Joshua will land a heavy shot that will be a real wake-up call for Usyk in the heavyweight division. Usyk is giving away a little bit too much natural size for this fight and I feel like Joshua has got a bit of momentum behind him and he’ll probably get the stoppage win.
That said, I would definitely not rule out an Usyk victory. If Usyk gets past the first three rounds, and settles into the fight, there could be some real questions for Joshua and his corner to contend with. I could see an Usyk stoppage in the second half of the fight.
I’m going to go for Joshua, but you cannot completely overlook Usyk.
Anthony Joshua wins by stoppage. Usyk will try to pressure AJ into working at a pace he’s not used to, but when Usyk realises he’s not denting AJ’s confidence, or forcing AJ to make the wrong decisions, then he’ll get desperate in the second half of the fight.
Usyk will try to step up the pressure from the sixth round onwards, because Joshua will probably be ahead on the scorecards. That’s when it’s going to get interesting, and that is when you’re going to get knockdowns.
Fighters will get hurt and fighters will make mistakes. Both of them could get put down or wobbled at least.
We know that AJ can definitely hurt a fighter. He’s sharp enough and smart enough to get a stoppage and he’ll get it between the ninth and 11th round.
If it’s the Oleksandr Usyk that I’ve seen at heavyweight so far, then AJ will win the fight. But we could see a different version of Usyk. The Usyk who set traps and makes opponents work so hard.
AJ has got a fast jab. It’s a big, booming heavyweight jab. I think early on, he will try to keep Usyk off balance, and target the body to slow him down and take his sharpness away.
Whenever Usyk cups his hands around his ears, then AJ has got to be smart and work to the body, rather than punch through the gloves. Work the body and maybe finish on the head.
It’s going to be a really good fight, but because of the size advantage, I still think AJ stops him. Maybe in the second half of the fight.