The epic battle takes place at the indoor arena at the King Abdullah Sports City in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia this Saturday night.
The first fight brought shock when, in September, Usyk dominated and won, via a unanimous decision.
That defeat and the manner of it led many to downplay Anthony Joshua’s chances of reclaiming his 3 belts–IBF, IBO and WBO.
Truth be told, Usyk is a hard puncher and one to be reckoned with. Even before the first win, he had a string of wins under his belt that should surely have made Joshua sit up. Joshua didn’t, apparently underrating the Ukrainian on fight night and paying dearly for it.
One thing, though, that has plagued Joshua’s career has been the perception by many that he isn’t in the bracket of heavy hitters like Deontay Wilder, Tyson Fury and others. There seems to be this notion that any hard-hitting fighter would easily brush the British-Nigerian aside if challenged. Usyk’s victory seems to have justified that notion to a very large extent.
One thing many fail to realize is just how potent Joshua really is. I mean, this is a guy who sent the dreaded Wladimir Klitschko into retirement with a famous uppercut the Russian never recovered from.
The Nigerian has taken belts from other impressive fighters, too, like Joshua Parker and many others.
That aside, it is a famous saying in the boxing world that, winning a belt is just one thing, but that the true test of a Champion is in defending that belt, or, reclaiming it if lost.
Remember Andy Ruiz? He packed quite a heavy punch just like Usyk. He smashed Joshua’s head in like potatoes against hard rock when they first fought. The Mexican created history and basked in his triumph and justly so.
However, just like in this scenario, Joshua was against the ropes, with many doubting if he could even come close to Ruiz in the rematch. Joshua put his head down, trained hard, stayed quiet (relatively), only to arrive fight night to boss and control proceedings from start to finish. It was the kind of performance only a true Champion exhibits and Joshua proved, by reclaiming his belt, that he deserved every belt he held at that time.
Time flies, they say and respect needs to be earned again and again to stay relevant. Joshua cannot rely on past glories. He has a beast in front of him who is not only motivated but highly focused. Unlike Ruiz who went partying, clubbing and drinking after his first victory against Joshua, this demon-looking Usky has largely remained away from the public light, grinding, sweating and making sure to prove that his win was no fluke.
Nonetheless, a blend of history and my gut feeling points towards a Joshua victory this night. It just feels like this is the making of legend as, if he wins this battle, a potential fight with British Tyson Fury, could come next. That would mean a unification bout, with the winner going down in the hall of history among fellow boxing greats like Mohammed Ali, George Foreman, Mike Tyson, Lennox Lewis and others.
I have maximum respect for Usyk and the little he has achieved so far. I think he is an exceptional fighter and one deserving of the crown, but, Joshua’s perchance for turning up when it really matters makes me believe he has the hunger to claim back his lost glory.
The Nigerian has done it before (as I aforementioned) and he will know that, if he loses, he could go into total oblivion, just as Wilder has after losing the trilogy to Fury. Joshua wouldn’t want to be cast aside in that manner and that hunger will be evident on fight night.
Ladies ad gentlemen, I know not specifically the manner of the victory, but, one thing I know for sure is that Anthony Joshua will defeat Oleksandr Usyk tonight in Saudi Arabia. You can take that to the bank.