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Joshua vs Usyk: The keys to victory for AJ as he gears up for must-win clash in Saudi Arabia

Finally, the date of Anthony Joshua’s fate with Oleksandr Usyk is finally a fact after their Jeddah rematch was officially confirmed on Sunday night.

It’s been over eight months since Joshua first started an instant rematch against Usyk, who put on a masterful display last September to dethrone him as unified heavyweight champion.

The Ukrainian proved tirelessly slick and elusive over 12 rounds in north London, meaning he left Tottenham Hotspur’s 62,000-seat stadium with a unanimous points win and AJ’s three world titles under his belt.

Anthony Joshua's fate date with Oleksandr Usyk was finally confirmed on Sunday night

Anthony Joshua’s fate date with Oleksandr Usyk was finally confirmed on Sunday night

The Briton will get his chance at redemption against Usyk in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on August 20

The Briton will get his chance at redemption against Usyk in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on August 20

Although it has taken more time to arrange everything than expected, as a result of Usyk’s brief attempt to negotiate an undisputed battle with Tyson Fury and the Russian invasion of his native Ukraine, Joshua will be given a shot at redemption on August 20 in the Saudi Arabian port city of Jeddah. †

And quite simply, he cannot afford to let it pass him by.

That was exactly what happened when they first met nine months ago, with the Briton’s ill-advised strategy of keeping their distance and defeating Usyk, failing to utilize his obvious physical advantages, which was a catastrophic event. turned out to be a blunder.

Joshua tried to play chess with the chess master and paid the price. It was an incredibly naive mistake that both he and ex-coach Robert McCracken made, one that only gave them a handful of encouraging moments as Usyk rode to victory.

This time, Joshua needs to resound through the changes, an idea he has already acknowledged by hiring Robert Garcia as his new head coach.

Joshua was beaten convincingly last time and must make the changes to avenge the loss

Joshua was beaten convincingly last time and must make the changes to avenge the loss

He has already acknowledged that by appointing Robert Garcia as his new head coach

He has already acknowledged that by appointing Robert Garcia as his new head coach

Garcia is one of the best coaches in world boxing and is known for using tough tactics

Garcia is one of the best coaches in world boxing and is known for using tough tactics

Garcia, coach of the brother of the fourweight world champion Mikey, along with a host of other top names, is the man to lead AJ’s revival and he certainly has his work cut out to do it. To be fair, Joshua hasn’t looked like the same fighter since Andy Ruiz Jr plunged him to Earth three years ago, a damaging defeat that seems to have shattered his confidence, not to mention a modern day great with very little weaknesses in Usyk.

Coming up with a formula to overthrow him is easier said than done. The obvious answer, as most armchair experts seem to have figured out, is that Joshua gets close to Usyk, imposes his superior size and wears him out. Still, the former undisputed cruiserweight king is too clever an operator to be undone by such a simple blueprint, especially against an opponent with little to no experience fighting that way.

Joshua has never been one for a messy, gritty brawl on the inside and, in reality, he probably doesn’t have the bike to manipulate anyone like this for 12 laps. He looked to his feet at the end of the first fight, which was after 36 minutes of a tit-for-tat boxing match, with Usyk on the verge of a stoppage when the final bell rang.

It goes without saying that he needs to apply more pressure when they meet again in the Middle East, although this pressure needs to be trained and in short, sharp bursts to avoid wasting energy and progressing to counter punches. In September, there were fleeting glimpses of the trouble AJ Usyk could cause and the tide even felt like it had turned on the fifth and sixth laps, only for the latter to find its way back and regain control from the seventh.

Usyk needs to be made more careful about what’s coming back this time, and when it comes to attacking, there aren’t many better coaches Joshua could have turned to than Garcia.

Joshua needs to put more pressure on when he meets Usyk again, but it needs to be taught

Joshua needs to put more pressure on when he meets Usyk again, but it needs to be taught

With Garcia, coach of Marcos Maidana and other top names, he is now in good hands

With Garcia, coach of Marcos Maidana and other top names, he is now in good hands

The Mexican has guided 14 men to world championships in his training career, including Marcos Maidana, Brandon Rios, Jose Ramirez, Abner Mares and brother Mikey.

Virtually all of the above five had similar properties; durable, physically strong fighters capable of close range aggression and rugged tactics to take down their opponents.

Still, Garcia’s biggest problem is that Joshua isn’t cut from the same cloth; he’s never been a volume puncher capable of throwing 100 punches per round, as Maidana tried in his brave 2014 defeat to Floyd Mayweather, nor does he have the ability to rough up anyone and bully them at close quarters.

As Fury pointed out recently, Joshua will likely throttle and be stopped if he tries to fight with the same intensity. Still, Garcia’s goal will be to bring out the best features of the former heavyweight champion, not turn him into a 240lbs Maidana.

One weapon in Joshua’s arsenal that Garcia will definitely use more often is body punching. On the rare occasion when the last time he came out in an attack on Usyk’s midriff, the natural cruiser weight appeared a little uneasy and pulled back after feeling the effect of Joshua’s stinging power.

It won't be easy for Joshua and his new trainer to find a way to topple Usyk in the Middle East

It won’t be easy for Joshua and his new trainer to find a way to topple Usyk in the Middle East

Since Usyk’s head is always moving up and down, left and right, targeting the body could be the key to AJ’s victory in Jeddah. At the end of the sixth round and throughout the eighth in September, he found success in doing so, stopping Usyk momentarily and giving himself time to fire overhead shots.

He can’t allow Usyk to build similar momentum and get into his groove early, and his greatest chance at preventing that is with regular strikes to his midsection.

Garcia’s brother, former pound-for-pound chef Mikey, is one of the best body punchers in world boxing when he’s at the peak of his ability, so if AJ can use the same techniques and methods as his new stable mate, he’ll be on the mend. revenge comes on August 20.

The Olympic gold medalist was also guilty of falling back in straight lines after unleashing his own attacks. Usyk was quick and smart enough to take advantage of that last September, with his backhand finding the target far too often during his dominant win.

Moving to the left after the throw allows Joshua to steer clear of that precise backhand and force Usyk to try and cover the distance on his own, which Garcia and Co will hope to thwart with bodywork.

Moving to the left instead of straight lines after the throw will keep him away from Usyk's backhand

Moving to the left instead of straight lines after the throw will keep him away from Usyk’s backhand

Anthony Joshua can't afford another defeat to Oleksandr Usyk

Tyson Fury will hope he triumphs to finally mount their all-British showdown

A potential blockbuster with Tyson Fury and his own career rides on this rematch

It’s hard to imagine a fighting juggernaut as talented and intelligent as Usyk succumbing to power and losing in the distance, but that doesn’t mean Joshua isn’t able to make rounds and regain his championships on the scorecards.

Failure to do so would completely change the landscape of the heavyweight division; for starters, Joshua himself would either be forced to retire or fall back to a level where he hasn’t boxed in a while, and having already amassed a fortune, the first option seems more likely, while Fury is likely to leave his gloves for good will hang up rather than return to take on Usyk with no domestic blockbuster on the cards.

Victory for Joshua in Saudi Arabia would therefore be a groundbreaking moment for British boxing, with a showdown with Gypsy King and his heavyweight career on it.

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