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Oleksandr Usyk vs. Anthony Joshua II Preview, TV and live stream


The heavyweight division has seen many rematches in recent history. The trilogy between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder will go down as one of the best in the history of the sport. Now, Oleksandr Usyk is looking to prove that last September’s performance against Anthony Joshua was no fluke.

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A former undisputed cruiserweight champion, Usyk moved up in weight to challenge Joshua for his three title belts last September. Usyk used superior footwork, boxing technique, and patience to keep Joshua at bay that night at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. The fans in the stadium that night had not been so disappointed as Jose Mourinho failed to turn the club around long ago.

That said, things are very different, not in any more ways than they should be for both parties. Joshua took a long road to find his path to redemption. Usyk faced the unbearable burden of being the athletic face of a nation facing its most significant fight in a literal sense.

Anthony Joshua Takes the Rocky Three Path

Surprisingly, his path is similar to Rocky Balboa’s in more ways than one. In the movies, Rocky wins the title in the second film and then travels a long, easy road to stardom. He never faced the challenge of CLubber Lang and when he faced the toughest test, he retired.

Joshua didn’t pull out against Usyk, but he was certainly exposed. Exposed in a much different way than he was with Andy Ruiz. He was outclassed, plain and simple.

What did Rocky have to do to get his mojo back? He headed west and asked former wrestler Apollo Creed to turn him into a newer, more polished version of himself. Anthony Joshua did the same thing by traveling the world before landing in California with former world champion turned world-class trainer, Robert Garcia.

Garcia’s work with his younger brother Mikey Garcia is well documented, but he has become a go-to guy for boxers when they need to be born again. He was able to change guys like Kelly Pavilek, Victor Ortiz, Brandon Rios, Marcos Maidana, and, most recently, Nonito Donaire. However, his work with Maidana is where our focus should be. Maidana became a refined, chaotic puncher and nearly beat Floyd Mayweather with that style. Garcia is the ultimate wild card in this fight because if he can do the same with Joshua, then we could be in for an interesting fight this weekend.

Oleksandr Usyk Will Walk to the Ring with the Weight of a Country

It’s not fair to hold this over Oleksandr Usyk’s head, but we’re kidding ourselves if we don’t talk about it. Last September, Russia invaded Ukraine was a joke made by the country’s Twitter account. Five months later, Russia invaded Usyk’s native Ukraine, so we had to wait for this fight to unfold.

Like his country’s top athletes, Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko, Usyk answered the call to arms. After a month of fighting for the life of his country, he left to begin his training camp for this fight. No other fighter should have to make the switch from literal soldier to professional fighter, but here we are.

Oleksandr Usyk needs to come in and manage his emotions. If he remains the refined, technical boxer, then he should be able to box circles around Joshua. However, if he comes out and looks for a quick finish, the Englishman may be singing a different tune on Saturday night.

What will Determine the Outcome of this Fight?

For Usyk we just mentioned. He may be the smaller guy, but he’s the most technical and polished fighter Anthony Joshua could ever dream of being if we’re being honest.

It’s always hard to be the guy coming off a rematch win. You wonder what really needs to change and for Usyk that rings truer than we can understand. He’s the perfect fighter for today’s heavyweight division. He’s more technical than anyone else in the division and he’s big enough to handle potential range issues. He just needs to rely on the boxing skills that allowed him to win a gold medal and become the undisputed cruiserweight champion.

As for Anthony Joshua, he needs to make this a tough, essential fight from the sound of the opening bell. Usyk’s style is vintage, Joshua needs to be a little below Woodstock ’99. He needs to give Usyk no time to think, no time to process, just non-stop action.

The best part? That may be the exact game plan coach Robert Garcia implements on Saturday. Both x-factors for both men come from forces outside the ring, whichever one can prove to be the mentally refined fighter should get the nod at the end of the day.

 

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