We all thought that Anthony Joshua was unbeatable. We all thought that we had found our new Mohammed Ali, or the progeny of Rocky Marciano. As hardcore Joshua fans, ones that bet at Irish bookies every time he takes centre stage, we still believe that the London-based champ could be champion again.
Former heavyweight champion, dubbed throwback fighter AJ is ready to square off with southpaw Oleksandr Usyk, with the winner of the bout taking home the IBF, WBO, WBA, and IBO. We all remember that dreaded night in September 2021, when the Ukrainian delivered the offence and dethroned AJ. It was not a good night for bookies, as the clear underdog middleweight turned heavyweight won with a unanimous decision over Joshua.
Ready to dig deep and go back to his roots, Joshua set himself on a crusade with a ‘buckle up and let’s do it again’ ethos. Having already claimed back his world championship titles from Mexico’s Andy Ruiz Jr, will it be so nice that Joshua can do it three times?
Southpaw Usyk is no Jokes this time around
Stunning Wembley Stadium with his impressive footwork skills and his Southpaw punches, Usyk is literally a force to be reckoned with. During his face-offs and weigh-ins with AJ, the Crimean-born fighter was dubbed the underdog. His friendly persona almost got us empathising with Usyk, knowing what was coming in the ring. Joshua’s uppercuts and KO ratio were unbeatable, with the latter forcing former heavyweight champ Dr Steelhammer Wladimir Klitschko.
Tony Bellew warned AJ not to walk the ring so confidently. After Bellew lost to Usyk in the middleweight division, Bellew returned and took on sports commentator roles. This time around, he had a clear message for AJ: “Beware, the Cat is a scary one”. Living up to the expectations, Usyk delivered a massive win, dethroning AJ and taking home all the belts. It was a moment where the boxing world stood still. Nobody had an answer to how this could have happened, not even AJ’s promoter Eddie Hearn.
After a failed unification bout with Tyson Fury fell through, AJ invoked his rematch clause, with him attempting to claim back his title from Usyk. In the meantime, devastating war in Ukraine happened, with the Ukrainian fighter joining the Ukrainian territorial defence. A rematch was up in the air until a rematch was penned for the 20th of August 2022 in Jeddah.
Looking up both fighters on Instagram, they share content about training camps, motivational quotes and promoting their upcoming fight. One thing is for sure: both are ready and hungry, and August 20th cannot come any sooner.
The face-off was another staring contest
Usyk and Joshua met again in London, meeting the press and promoters. To say that the face-off was an awkward event is an understatement. Experts state that Joshua’s body language showed discomfort, clearly the former Champ feeling intimidated by Usyk. The Ukrainian refused to look away first during the face-off, with Joshua having to succumb to the tension.
A follow-up interview followed, with AJ asking his opponent about his family and the situation in Ukraine. A true sportsman and also showing respect to your opponent are imperative in contact sports, something many other fighters lack.
Will the war back home impact Usyk’s mental state going into this bout? And now that Anthony Johsua has appointed a new trainer, will he be able to outbox the Southpaw legend?
Will Joshua be able to pull a win as he did over Andy Ruiz JR?
This year has given us some notable fights. Khan vs Brook, Taylor vs. Serrano, Pulev vs Chisora, Fury vs Wilder, and many more to come. We have Savannah Marshall vs Claressa Shields coming up, and we also have Canelo vs GGG3, but to be honest, as hardcore boxing fans, all our eyes are on the heavyweight titles.
The Rage on the Red Sea is undoubtedly one of the most sought-after upcoming fights. Everyone is talking about it. Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury shared their thoughts on who will win the bout, but this is boxing, and upsets always happen. Whilst Joshua claims that he could win his world titles back, just like he did with Ruiz, he states he will KO Usyk and reclaim his rightful place as the king of heavyweight?
What are the betting odds saying?
With such a massive heavyweight fight, bookies have been scrambling to list their odds and welcome bets from boxing fans worldwide. The bout will determine who will be the reigning heavyweight champion. Will Usyk outbox the London boxer again, or will Joshua reign supreme?
After stunning us (including the Joshua camp) last September, Usyk remains the favourite of winning his rematch fight against AJ. Having won with a unanimous decision over Joshua, the Ukrainian fighter comes into the fight with confidence, enjoying odds at 1/2 whilst Joshua’s odds at winning stand at 7/4. The odds for the fight ending in a draw stand at 16/1. To be fair, with such a high-profile fight on the line, the belts would need to go somewhere, and in heavyweight boxing, you regain or retain your belts with a KO or outboxing your adversary.
September 2021 saw Oleksandr Usyk almost destroy AJ, especially in the last few seconds of the bout. It is hard to see the match swaying any other way, with the Southpaw all beefed up and ready to go. The war back home plays a big role in the champ’s mental state. We have seen Usyk wearing the blue and yellow colors of Ukraine proudly. We empathise with the situation and hope this will not cause an upset to his mindset and goals.
In the meantime, AJ’s throwback fighter is spending day and night in the gym. Sparring, boxing, and working on his mindset of “Stay Humble”. This fight is a make-or-break for AJ. This is the fight that he has been dreaming and living for since the day his belts and titles were lost. AJ claims he is hungry; he is ready, the exact words that he told his IG followers before regaining his belts after a loss to Ruiz. This bout will be the decisive fight that AJ will either renter or get lost in translation in the boxing world. It is not just a fight; it is a legacy; it is the future. It is a now or never again kind of situation.
Who will be the king of heavyweight?
Debatable, but we have placed our bets confidently on Anthony Joshua.