Heavier by 18.75 pounds, WBO, WBA and IBF champion, Anthony Joshua, has promised to deliver in tonight’s defense of his titles against his skillful Ukrainian opponent, Oleksandr Usyk. The bout comes up iat the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium arena, London.
Coming in at 240 to his challenger’s 221.25 and looking fit in the last weigh-in at the O2 arena, Joshua, rated number 1, threw a rhetorical question at the crowd and provided the answer himself.
“What do we want on Saturday? We will deliver, we will deliver,.” he announced.
With much talk about his slimmed down image, many boxing enthusiasts were sure he would be shades slimmer than his weight when he fought Kubrat Pulev December last year. Though the weight is his lightest since he joined the heavyweight group, he however, looks sharp enough to give impression that he is keener on speed and agility over bulk.
Joshua is expected to face one of his most challenging fights ever, a conclusion that is not altogether unfounded as Usyk, a south paw, rated number 10, is reputed to be skillfully cunny. Hence his decision to tone his weight down with emphasis on speed and agility may well be a very considered option.
Usyk is, on the other hand, hoping to upset Joshua and occupy a pride of place in boxing history, a feat only recorded by two elite boxers, America’s Evander Holyfield and England’s David Haye. It’s obviously a desire that makes him hungrier and one the champion must handle with utmost care to remain in contention at the glamour group.
“Maybe if I’m fighting a shorter, stronger guy I might bulk up a bit. But I’ve got a good fighter with his legs. So, I’m going to keep up with his footwork and hand speed and make sure I’m good right through for the duration,” Joshua told Skysports.
Coming in heavier weight is not exactly the only area Joshua seems to have some telling edges over the Ukrainian. He also has the height and longer reach advantages to counter Usyk’s nimble footwork and overall technical skillset from an awkward southpaw point of view. That, for sure, is the reason many pundits have concluded its going to be a close call on Saturday night.