It’s not Tyson Fury, but in Oleksandr Usyk, Anthony Joshua takes on a blockbuster fight against a formidable opponent.
AJ’s heavyweight world title defense against his mandatory WBO challenger was confirmed at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium this week for September 25.
Not only will the Briton’s belts be on the line when these two giants collide, but the super-fight with Tyson Fury lurking is also on the line.
Anthony Joshua will defend his four heavyweight titles against Oleksandr Usyk
Do the business against Usyk and the undisputed fight could be next. Lose, and it will be further away than ever.
Usyk will no doubt have his own ambitions to get involved in the title mix and as a former undisputed cruiserweight champion, he will feel like he poses a serious threat to Joshua’s goal of taking every heavyweight title.
With just over eight weeks to go, Sports post check out the early predictions of current and former fighters as well as boxing pundits and pundits.
“I don’t believe Usyk is a heavyweight. I think he’s a pumped-up cruiserweight who struggles with heavyweights.
“In my opinion, Derek Chisora beat Oleksandr Usyk – he definitely struggled with Derek Chisora and Joshua is a much bigger, stronger man than Derek.
“I think he’s right through Usyk. People try to build it up like a terrifying fight, but he didn’t have the power to stop cruiser weights like Mairis Briedis or anyone else.”
Tyson Fury believes Joshua will be too big and strong for ‘pumped up cruiserweight’ Usyk
“I think it will be four, five, maybe six laps before AJ starts nailing him cleanly with the two and three punch combinations.
“I think he might even be points behind at that stage, but I think he will catch up to him from lap six and I think it will be an AJ win.
“But make no mistake, it’s a very, very hard fight and an even harder fight now that he’s taken Lomachenko on board.”
Answered his performance to Chisora questions so I could say, ‘Usyk belongs there with Tyson Fury, or with Anthony Joshua, or even with someone like Deontay Wilder?’ I’m not so sure.
“I think he would have a hard time. The pace and pressure of Anthony Joshua, and the combination of punches.
“An even bigger, heavier, sturdier, fresher heavyweight as AJ – and he makes more effective shots on target. I don’t know if that answers the questions for me. I’m not putting him in the top three heavyweights in the world.”
Carl Froch was unimpressed by Usyk against Chisora and believes he will compete against AJ
“It’s a death fight. Usyk didn’t look well.
Who has he fought at heavyweight? Chazz Witherspoon, Derek Chisora. He looked terrible in the fights. He has no punching power.
“Okay, he’s got a good move, but it’s not a pretty move. At cruiserweight his movement was nice, but at heavyweight his movement is not pleasant. It’s just so negative.
“These guys know. You can say what you want about me, but there are two things they can’t deny.
“I always come to fight and anyone who fights against me, you know you fought, whether you win, lose or draw.
“The two fights I lost have caused a lot of damage to the boys.
“Anthony Joshua almost got knocked out when I fought him. If you watch the clips you will hear him say, “If I had taken another body shot of him, I would have folded in half.”
“These guys know either way, win, lose or draw. I come to give work.’
Dillian Whyte insisted Usyk has ‘no power’ and looked ‘terrible’ since he went up
Anthony Joshua will defend his titles against a tricky left leg in Oleksandr Usyk in September. Tyson was supposed to fight him but that didn’t happen for legal reasons and he also has a tough assignment.
“I have full confidence in Tyson’s ability to do another job at Wilder, but I’m less confident that AJ can overcome the obstacle in front of him. Usyk conquered the world at cruiserweight, united all belts and has remained undefeated ever since.”
“Of course I believe he (Usyk) can win.
“He has a very good chance, but it won’t be easy, because Joshua also knows what to do in the ring.
‘Joshua also knows boxing, he also has amateur experience.
“It’s going to be an interesting fight, very interesting.
“Joshua is taller, but Oleksandr is much faster. It will be a battle between styles.’
Vasyl Lomachenko believes his compatriot is faster than AJ and has a huge chance of winning
“I’d love to take on whoever wins, but I’d love to have the chance to fight Joshua.
“I think he wants to fight Fury, so we’ll have to see what happens there, but I’m on the WBO job and want to be mandated.
“I think Usyk could be a tough fight for Joshua, but sooner or later he would have to take him out, you would think.
“It’s heavyweight boxing, so you never know, but Usyk is no joke. He’s an Olympic gold medalist, a very skilled left-hander, so he’s likely to give Joshua trouble with his good footwork and ringcraft.
“I really think Joshua will get him sooner or later.”
“I think Joshua has his hands full with Usyk. I give Usyk a great opportunity to beat Joshua in that fight.”
Fury co-promoter Bob Arum has also declined to rule out Usyk beating Joshua in September
‘He is’ [Oleksandr Usyk] very dangerous.
“It’s not a walk in the park. Forget cruiser weight. This guy, he’s had a few fights in the heavyweight division, he’s adjusted, he’s gained the necessary weight.”
“Usik is good. He’s a world-class cruiserweight, [he’s] proved it.
“But AJ is a big guy and he’s got a good set of boxing skills and he’s a big strong man.
“And I think he’s just too good for Usyk.
“Usyk won’t be able to hit hard enough to bother him because he’s too small. He will walk straight through it.
“I think AJ will stop him faster than anyone. I think AJ will walk right through him. I do.’
Fury’s father John (above) is convinced that Joshua is ‘straight through’ Usyk. will walk
“I don’t know Joshua beats Usyk, I think Usyk is a tent fighter. In my own mind, he’s a tent fighter.
“With all the best fighters in the world, especially those who aren’t huge punchers, it’s the speed of their boxing brains that sets them apart. Usyk thinks quickly.’
“Usyk will beat Joshua by 10,000%. Place your bet.’