The first time Anthony Joshua (24-2, 22KOs) and Oleksander Usyk (19-0, 13KOs) met, few gave the latter a shot at dethroning the hulking Joshua.
Instead, he proceeded to take apart the Englishman and dished out a boxing lesson, leaving some fight pundits scratching their heads as to what they had just witnessed.
But really, the writing was already on the wall as far as Joshua was concerned. In 2019, he had been stopped by Andy Ruiz, and though he won the rematch, Joshua was exposed for being a limited fighter with glaring flaws. Will he be able to redeem himself today or will it be a repeat performance for Usyk? Here are three possible scenarios.
FIRST. Joshua comes out aggressively, trying to establish his jab. Usyk bides his time and works on Joshua’s body.
Joshua cracks Usyk with a big right hand in the fourth, but Usyk responds with a huge left hook that wobbles Joshua in the fifth.
Both men settle into a pattern with Joshua jabbing and mostly staying out of range and Usyk trying to bridge the distance and landing combinations.
The championship rounds are the best with both men having their moments. However, two of the three judges favor Joshua’s output in a controversial split decision verdict.
SECOND. Usyk comes out fast, popping that jab furiously in Joshua’s face. He wins the first half of the fight as Joshua seems to be surprisingly timid and unable to find his rhythm.
Everything changes in the fifth as Joshua lands a monstrous right hand that crashes hard on Usyk’s temple.
The Ukrainian wobbles and goes down on one knee. He gets up at the count of 8.
In a flash, Joshua is on him like a rabid debt collector. He unloads wild lumbering punches which Usyk catches on his arms, and although the latter is defending himself reasonably well a few good shots land here and there and ref calls for the denouement of the fight.
THIRD. The first three rounds become the quintessential feeling out phase with both men unwilling to commit offensively.
The crowd starts to boo the lackluster action in the middle rounds which propel both men to come aggressively in the second half of the fight.
Joshua tries to impose his size and strength by pushing around Usyk and there is a lot of holding and clinching. However, Usyk, who is the superior fighter, gets the better of the close exchanges.
Usyk eventually takes control of the fight in the championship rounds as Joshua seems to tire. In the end, the judges score it unanimously in favor of Usyk who retains his IBF, WBA and WBO belts.
LAST ROUNDS. They are on Fiscal Benjo Luther Macion of Talisay City and Junjun Caraballe of the MTCC Branch 9 Cebu City who recently celebrated their birthdays. Cheers!
August 20, 2022
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