Former unified heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua knows what it takes to rebound from adversity. The 32-year-old fought in the United States for the first time in 2019 and was heavily favored against Andy Ruiz Jr. at Madison Square Garden.
However, Ruiz stunned the boxing world by getting up from a knockdown and stopping Joshua in 7, but Joshua got the rematch and ultimately got his revenge as he beat Ruiz by unanimous decision later that year.
Now, on August 20, at the King Abdullah Sports City Arena in the coastal city of Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Joshua(24-2, 22 KOs) is trying to do the same against a more challenging opponent in unified heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk(19-0, 13 KOs), who defeated Joshua by unanimous decision in 2021.
Joshua says he’s ready and called this a “must-win” fight.
That’s it. It’s a “must-win” fight,” he said this week. “Preparations have been tough, but I like the pressure. Robert Garcia, Angel Fernandez, members of my previous team as well; they’ve been pushing me, challenging me, ensuring I stay focused, and positioning me to get the job done and emerge victorious come Saturday night.
“I’m looking forward to it. I want to compete. I’m looking forward to it. I can’t really say muchelse, but you’ve got to have a competitive spirit. I’m prepared to do whatever it takes, and I’m looking forward to competing this weekend.”
Usyk, 35, expects the rematch to be a very great fight.
“We learned from each other in the first fight, but this is a continuation, and the first round on Saturday will be round 13,” Usyk said. “We had enough time to study each other. We were born to compete for life, for belts, for everything. The one who does not compete does not win. All our lives are competitions for something or somebody. That’s why we are competing. We’ve had enough time to study each other, and this Saturday will be a great, great fight.”
Joshua has a new trainer in Robert Garcia, and again, we’ve seen what he did in the rematch against Ruiz. He avoided fighting inside and used his size and jab to get the job done. Joshua will have to use his size(6-5, 244 pounds) to defeat Usyk(6-3, 221 pounds). Joshua has the power to drop and stop Usyk, while the Ukrainian is a technician and skills pay the bills, which favors Usyk.
Joshua tried to box Usyk in their first fight; it appears to get the win in the rematch, he must make it a little dirty.
In reality, Usyk did not look great in his first two fights at heavyweight, but he put it all together against Joshua. This is his fourth fight at heavyweight, and it appears he has grown into the weight.
It’s hard to pick against Usyk, but you can’t dismiss the fight in Joshua. My mind says Usyk, but my heart is telling me, Joshua.
Winner: Joshua by split decision.
Photo credit: Mark Robinson/Matchroom Boxing