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Anthony Joshua vs. Oleksandr Usyk: Fight Odds, Live Stream, Predictions

Nate Loop@Nate_LoopFeatured ColumnistSeptember 23, 2021

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 21: Anthony Joshua looks on from inside the ring during their media work out ahead of the WBA, WBO, IBF and IBO World Heavyweight Title fight between Anthony Joshua and Oleksandr Usyk at the O2 Indigo on September 21, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Julian Finney/Getty Images

Heavyweight superstar Anthony Joshua (24-1, 22 KOs) is all set to put his WBA, WBO and IBF world titles on the line Saturday against mandatory challenger Oleksandr Usyk (18-3, 13 KOs).

It's certainly the biggest fight of Usyk's career, but it's also a critical hurdle for Joshua, who needs to get a win to set up a potential unification fight against WBC champion Tyson Fury.

Joshua is one of the hardest hitters in boxing's top division and has consistently worked to improve his technique since his stunning upset loss to Andy Ruiz in June 2019.

The 31-year-old was able to get his revenge against the American just six months later and has since gone on to beat 39-year-old Kubrat Pulev, easily outclassing him in a ninth-round knockout win.

Usyk, 34, is a relative newcomer to the heavyweight ranks. He spent most of his career at cruiserweight, becoming the unified champion in 2018.

A tricky, technically sound southpaw, the Ukrainian has moved up to the heavyweight division in search of greater glory. A win over Joshua would be a career highlight and put him in prime position for another blockbuster or two.

       

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Joshua vs. Usyk Fight Info

When: Saturday, Sep. 25 at 1 p.m. ET (main card, ring walk approx. 5:10 p.m. ET per DAZN.com)

Where: Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London

Live stream: DAZN (US), Sky Sports Box Office (UK)

TV: Sky Sports Box Office (UK)

Odds (via FanDuel): Joshua -310, Usyk +225

             

Predictions

The oddsmakers are favoring Joshua in this match, and for good reason. He's the champion, after all, and has fought his entire career at heavyweight.

His right hand is a fearsome weapon, not quite at Deontay Wilder's level, but fairly close. He's also shown greater patience since the loss to Ruiz, working behind his jab and waiting for clean opportunities rather than assuming he can weather any storm en route to a knockout blow. 

Some will rightly wonder if Usyk will be able to withstand Joshua's best power punches. The challenger hasn't been knocked down in his career, but he's never faced anyone as powerful as the British fighter. He had some trouble with Derek Chisora's size in a close, unanimous-decision win in October.

Joshua also has a five-inch reach advantage (82" to 78", per BoxRec), so Usyk will have to work hard to establish an offense and not let the champion control him by pumping the jab.

Heavyweight fighter Dillian Whyte thinks Usyk lacks the firepower needed to trouble Joshua.

"It's a dead fight. Usyk hasn't looked good," he said, per Jordan Seward of the Daily Mail.

"Who has he fought at heavyweight? Chazz Witherspoon, Derek Chisora. He looked terrible in the fights. He has no punch power."

While Joshua has plenty working in his favor, Usyk is more than capable of pulling off a big upset here.

Strong on the defensive front, he's not going to make it easy for Joshua to string together combinations. Usyk also has fast hands and, as a southpaw, he'll be able to return fire at awkward angles.

Joshua has said he's had to do plenty of homework to prepare for the undefeated Ukrainian, per ESPN.com's Nick Parkinson:

"He's fought many men that are orthodox and during my process in training for a southpaw, I've actually learned where my feet need to be positioned, what controls a southpaw and generally counterpunches. His biggest threat is he's used to seeing guys like me throughout the whole of his career and ... I've had to train for him over the last three months. So yes, I've adapted."

Tony Bellew, who lost to Usyk at cruiserweight in 2018, believes this will be Joshua's toughest test yet. 

"As a natural boxer and his technical ability, no one is anywhere near as good a boxer as him in the heavyweight division. He's in a league of his own," he told Josh Fordham of TalkSport.

It should also be noted that Joshua's chin has failed him before. He lost to Ruiz by TKO, and Wladimir Klitschko was able to knock him down in their epic title fight in 2017. Usyk's likeliest route to victory is on the cards, but a shock KO isn't out of the realm of possibility. 

If the fight is close in the later rounds, Usyk may want to gun for the knockout. The crowd is going to be on Joshua's side here, and there's all kinds of pressure to get him and Fury in the ring together. It may be tough for him to earn a narrow-decision victory.

Look for Usyk to score a few rounds early on, only to see a composed, mature Joshua keep the pressure on and finally crack him in the late rounds.

Prediction: Joshua by late KO

             

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