Anthony Joshua: “I Belong On The Big Stage, You’ll See Why”
By: Hans Themistode
At one point, Anthony Joshua’s name stood prominently at the top of the heavyweight mountain.
Even following his shocking defeat at the hands of Andy Ruiz Jr. in 2019, Joshua believed he was still the best fighter in the world and would go on to prove that Ruiz Jr.’s victory over him was more or less a fluke. However, with Joshua tasting defeat for the second time in his career, this one feels different.
Despite Oleksandr Usyk giving up size, reach, and weight against Joshua, the former undisputed cruiserweight champion confidently marched into the hometown of Joshua and proceeded to strip the well-built heavyweight of his championship status. With the second loss of his career now smeared onto his record, Joshua is simply chalking up his latest defeat to his ambitious nature.
“If I didn’t fight the best, I may not have loss,” said Joshua during a recent interview with Sky Sports Boxing.
During their heavyweight showdown, Joshua smiled as he made his way to the ring. His British fans roared in the background at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. But, to their bemusement, Joshua attempted to box whom many consider to be on a shortlist of the greatest pure boxers in the world today, as opposed to using his physical attributes.
The end result is one that Joshua is now attempting to rebound from. Following his unlikely defeat, the former heavyweight titlist immediately actived his immediate rematch clause. The two are now locked in intense negotiations with promoter Eddie Hearn revealing that a showdown between the pair should come to fruition in the first half of 2022.
While Joshua now finds his name firmly behind the likes of Usyk, and WBC heavyweight titlist Tyson Fury, the British star is anxious to prove that any discussions surrounding his demise are greatly exaggerated.
“I belong on the big stage, I belong as a champion, I belong amongst the names of this current generation. You’ll see why.”
Floyd Mayweather Doesn’t View Anthony Joshua’s Loss To Oleksandr Usyk As An Upset
By: Hans Themistode
The 2021 boxing calendar has been filled with upsets. Amongst a long list of them, was the mostly unforeseen result between Anthony Joshua and Oleksandr Usyk. Although the Ukrainian star had dominated the cruiserweight division, nabbing every world title en route to becoming an undisputed world champion, his performances as a heavyweight left much to be desired.
Following a lackluster knockout win against Chazz Witherspoon and a close decision victory over fringe contender Dereck Chisora, Usyk found himself as a considerable underdog against the former unified titlist. Yet, despite the hulking muscles and his propensity for knockouts, Joshua struggled mightily. While Joshua had his moments, he was thoroughly outboxed as he proceeded to lose his WBA, IBF, and WBO heavyweight titles.
Although Usyk has been lauded for what many are considering to be the upset of the year, Floyd Mayweather becomes incredulous whenever that notion is brought about.
“That was not an upset,” said Mayweather to several reporters. “It was just that, Anthony Joshua was on TV. Everybody seen him. Usyk was a helluva fighter, a gold medalist if I’m not mistaken. But he was behind the scenes. Two guys with crazy amateur backgrounds and one guy is not being seen and another guy is being seen, then we call it an upset. No, it’s just that he was working behind the scenes and another guy was working in front of everybody. Finally, they had to meet up and Anthony Joshua came up short.”
As illustrated by Mayweather, both Joshua and Usyk enjoyed sizable success in the unpaid ranks. In the case of Joshua, he wrapped up his amateur career with a record of 40-3. In the process, the British native took home an Olympic gold medal in the 2012 games. But, regardless of how impressive Joshua was before turning pro, Usyk’s achievements as an amateur dwarfs his rival.
In addition to winning countless amateur tournaments, Usyk snagged gold at the 2012 Olympics as well. By the time he hung up his amateur gloves, Usyk aggregated a record of 335-15. Although Mayweather believes the Ukrainian should’ve never been labeled as an underdog heading into his showdown against Joshua, the former unified titlist is hellbent on regaining his heavyweight throne.
Immediately following his defeat, Joshua exercised his rematch clause. The two are now entangled in intense negations. And, according to promoter Eddie Hearn, the pair are expected to lock horns in the first half of 2022.
For the past several months, Joshua has been spotted at numerous gyms as he appears to be in search of a new coach. If the former heavyweight champion has yet to make a final decision, Mayweather urges the British star to pick up the phone and give him a call.
“I told him from the beginning, he can come and I can teach him some pointers.”
Anthony Joshua: “F*ck Being Humble, I’m Done With F*cking Losing”
By: Hans Themistode
Anthony Joshua has been both gracious in victory and humble in defeat.
Following the first loss of his career to Andy Ruiz Jr. in June of 2019, Joshua placed his arms around his Mexican rival and allowed him to receive his well-earned spotlight. Joshua would continue to heap praise onto the shoulders of Ruiz Jr. but inside, he was angry. Six months later, Joshua scored a one-sided victory against Ruiz Jr. to reclaim his world titles.
In what appeared to be deja vu, Joshua once again took his defeat well. The former Olympic gold medalist was thoroughly outboxed by Oleksandr Usyk on September 25th, earlier this year at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in the United Kingdom.
Much like his first defeat, Joshua gave full credit to Usyk for pulling off the win. But while Joshua has seemingly taken his losses well, he’s reached his breaking point.
“F*ck being humble,” said Joshua during an interview with IFL TV. “I’m done with f*cking losing.”
In an effort to bring about more consistent winning at the top level, Joshua appears to be seeking help from some of the top trainers stateside. Amongst the more notable names, Joshua has visited the gym of Eddy Reynoso and has been seen joking and laughing with pound-for-pound star Canelo Alvarez. Joshua has also visited the gym of Ronnie Shields, where he was seen receiving tips from WBC middleweight belt holder, Jermall Charlo.
Joshua’s need to break free from trainer Rob McCracken, appears to be stemming from what many found to be a puzzling game plan the night Joshua squared off against Usyk. Known for his ability to box and move, Usyk employed that very tactic to outbox Joshua and dominate down the stretch.
Despite being considerably bigger than the former undisputed cruiserweight champion, Joshua never used his physical attributes to bully his man. Instead, the British native seemed content with boxing on the outside, a game plan that was widely criticized.
Throughout most of Joshua’s career, the former unified heavyweight champion has expressed the value of learning the ins and outs of the sport. He’s also preached the importance of showing respect and sportsmanship. However, with another defeat now plastered to his resume, Joshua is just about through with his whole nice guy routine.
“I’m done with trying to learn the sweet science. He might get thrown on the floor in the next fight because this is war. It’s just straight war.”
Bob Arum: “Whatever New Trainer He [Anthony Joshua] Gets, He Ain’t Gonna Beat Oleksandr Usyk”
By: Hans Themistode
Anthony Joshua is seemingly on the prowl for the next lead man in his corner.
After suffering a close but clear unanimous decision defeat at the hands of Oleksandr Usyk on September 25th, in front of his hometown crowd at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in the United Kingdom, Joshua appears to be ready for a change.
The British native was openly criticized by media pundits, fans, and his fellow boxing contemporaries, for the game plan his team attempted to implement on fight night.
Usyk, 33, is known for his terrific boxing ability. With a 2012 Olympic gold medal, as well as an undisputed title reign in the cruiserweight division, the prevailing thought process surrounding his showdown against Joshua, was that the extremely muscular unified champion would use his size and girth to his advantage.
To the surprise of many, Joshua sought to outbox his much more skilled opponent. Ultimately, Joshua’s latest defeat has seemingly pushed him away from long-time head trainer Rob McCracken. Recently, Joshua has been seen making the rounds around several boxing gyms as he appears to be in search of a new lead voice. Amongst the many trainers Joshua has looked into, are Ronnie Shields, Eddy Reynoso, and Robert Garcia.
At the moment, Joshua has yet to officially switch trainers. However, if the former unified heavyweight titlist decides to seek help outside of his comfort zone, promoter Bob Arum views it as a complete waste of time.
“Whatever new trainer he gets, he ain’t gonna beat Oleksandr Usyk,” said Arum during an interview with Fight Hub TV. “Not now, not next year.”
With Joshua invoking his immediate rematch clause, the pair will lock horns again during the first quarter of 2022. An apoplectic Joshua was originally taken aback by what Usyk was able to accomplish in their first showdown. Despite being the much smaller man, the pound-for-pound star dominated the middle of the ring and sat in the wheelhouse of Joshua for long stretches of time, unafraid of the assault that was heading in his direction.
In the 12th and final round, Usyk appeared to be on the verge of scoring the knockout win. He pounded a hapless Joshua relentlessly against the ropes in the final seconds of their contest. With just a few months remaining until the two square off once again, Arum shakes his head as Joshua appears to be cramming last-minute knowledge into his cranium.
No matter whom Joshua picks as the man who will lead him into battle, Arum is of the belief that at this point in his career, Joshua simply doesn’t have the time.
“Usyk is too smart for him and he’s a southpaw. Joshua is not going to learn in six months what he never learned, which is how to fight a southpaw.”
Tim Bradley Believes He Knows What’s Wrong With Anthony Joshua: “I Think The Ruiz Fight Ruined Him”
By: Hans Themistode
Nothing appears to be off with Anthony Joshua. The former unified heavyweight titlist still possesses hulking muscles, still flashes a bright smile, and appears to be just as menacing as he always was. Yet, after watching Joshua over the past few fights, Tim Bradley believes something is off.
Recently, both Joshua and WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury took center just a few weeks apart from one another. Although both men were expected to leave the ring victorious, it was Joshua who was unable to hold up his end of the bargain, losing to former undisputed cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk.
As Usyk’s hand was raised in triumph, Joshua congratulated his adversary and continued to do so in the back room, away from most of the cameras and press. While Bradley isn’t opposed to Joshua’s sportsmanship, he was taken aback by how the former titlist conducted himself following his most recent defeat.
“It’s a different mentality,” said Bradley during an interview with FightHype.com. “Joshua, his mentality is way different than Tyson Fury. Joshua’s okay, it just seems like he’s comfortable with losing a fight. He’s gracious and whatever you want to call it, but it’s too easy for me.”
Both Fury and Joshua, considered bitter rivals, were hoping that after their respective matches, an all British undisputed showdown could take place. Fury would go on to pick himself up off the deck twice on October 9th, to go on to stop former heavyweight champion, Deontay Wilder.
Although many have pointed to tactical errors in Joshua’s game plan against Usyk, such as attempting to box a boxer as opposed to bullying him and using his size, Bradley isn’t necessarily placing his focus on the X’s and O’s. Instead, Bradley points to a long list of luxurious available to Joshua. And, more importantly, the first night Joshua tasted defeat at the hands of Andy Ruiz Jr.
“Boss, it’s hard to train when you’ve got the whole world at your feet,” claimed Bradley. “It’s hard to train and stay focused and stay dedicated and having that hunger and desire. Because success, that weakens [the mind], and I think in the Ruiz fight – I think that ruined him.”
On June 1st, 2019, Ruiz Jr. stepped in on late notice to face Joshua for his U.S. debut. Despite being considered a huge underdog on the night, Ruiz Jr. would go on to drop Joshua four times before ultimately stopping him in the seventh. The British native, however, immediately invoked his rematch clause and would go on to win a wide unanimous decision six months later.
Regardless of Joshua avenging the first loss of his career, Bradley isn’t convinced that he’s the same ferocious fighter that he once was.
“I think that ruined his confidence, I think he’s also scared to get hit. He’s gun shy, don’t wanna throw because he’s afraid of getting hit, so that’s why you didn’t see him throw.”
Eddie Hearn Only Gives Deontay Wilder A Puncher’s Chance Against Dillian Whyte, Anthony Joshua, And Oleksandr Usyk
By: Hans Themistode
Like many who were watching, Eddie Hearn was glued to his television set.
This past weekend, both Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder staged one of the most epic heavyweight battles in recent memory. The two clashed at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, and were bombs away from the opening bell. With each man scoring numerous knockdowns, Hearn was on the edge of his seat.
By the time the dust cleared, it was Fury who was the last man standing, scoring an 11th round stoppage win. Despite Wilder picking up his second straight knockout defeat at the hands of Fury, Hearn couldn’t help but tip his cap to the hard-hitting former titlist.
“I think his credibility has gone through the roof,” said Hearn during an interview with IFL TV. “Although he looked like his tank was empty after two rounds, he stuck in there. He could not even stand up and he kept going. I give him credit, fair play.”
Wilder, 35, may have seen his bid to become a two-time heavyweight champion come to an end, but the Alabama native is far from done. According to head trainer Malik Scott, Wilder is already planning a return to the ring, but not before a long rest.
As for what could be next for the Olympic Bronze medalist, there’s a long list of highly-ranked contenders that Hearn believes could make for intriguing showdowns. Amongst them, are the likes of Dillian Whyte, newly crowned heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk, and long-time rival Anthony Joshua.
Matchups against any of those previously mentioned names, however, would see Wilder as a prohibited underdog. At least, in the opinion of Hearn. While he respects Wilder and the ridiculous knockout power he brings to the table, Hearn is steadfast in his belief that unless Wilder lands his money punch, he’ll not only lose to Whyte, Usyk, and Joshua but he’ll do so quite easily.
“Whyte would do exactly the same to Wilder that Fury did, in terms of being too big and too strong but could also get KO’d. AJ, too sharp, too good a technician but could also get KO’d. Usyk would school Wilder, but could also get KO’d.”
Tyson Fury: “If I Trained Anthony Joshua, He’d Definitely Beat Oleksandr Usyk”
By: Hans Themistode
There is absolutely no love lost between Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury. For years on end, the two have gone back and forth with one another. At one point, a matchup between them appeared to be on the horizon. However, things have failed to materialize.
Despite Fury believing that Joshua is nothing more than a muscular brute with no true skills, Fury is willing to offer him a helping hand.
On September 25th, at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in the United Kingdom, Oleksandr Usyk upset the applecart by scoring a surprisingly dominant victory over Joshua. Usyk – who came into their showdown approximately 20 pounds lighter – boxed, moved, and at times, even bullied Joshua en route to a unanimous decision victory.
Following his defeat, Joshua shortly announced that he would invoke his immediate rematch clause. Promoter Eddie Hearn has since stated that he believes the pair will tango once more in the first quarter of 2022.
While Fury has never been too fond of his fellow British rival, the current WBC heavyweight titlist has revealed that both he and his trainer, would have no problem offering their level of expertise.
“I know if trained Anthony Joshua, me and Sugar Hill trained him for this next fight, he’d definitely beat Oleksandr Usyk,” said Fury to Boxing on BT Sport.
Heading into their showdown, the skills of Usyk were mostly dismissed due to the size and girth advantage of Joshua. Regardless of those assumptions, the Ukrainian had little to no trouble navigating the heavyweight waters. Usyk controlled the center of the ring early on and closed strong in the final round, even appearing to have Joshua on the verge of hitting the deck.
Although it’s unclear of whether or not Fury, or Hill for that matter, would be willing to train Joshua, the WBC belt holder wants to assure his fellow Britt that his services will come without a price tag.
“I would be open to doing it. I’d do it for free because I don’t need the money. We would take on that challenge.”
Carl Froch: ” [Oleksandr Usyk] Probably One Of The Best Southpaws I’ve Ever Seen”
By: Hans Themistode
There was a look of pure shock spread across the face of Carl Froch. As the former 168-pound champion nestled into his commentator seat for Anthony Joshua’s showdown against Oleksandr Usyk this past weekend at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in the United Kingdom, Froch was confident that Joshua would take care of business and defend his heavyweight titles.
Although Usyk was extremely accomplished, having won an Olympic gold medal in the 2012 Games and unifying every single world title in the cruiserweight division, Froch simply viewed the Ukrainian as entirely too small. Despite his thoughts, Froch couldn’t believe what he was watching as Usyk went on to dominate their showdown.
It may not have been considered Joshua’s finest moment as a professional but instead of piling on, Froch has decided to look at things from a different perspective.
“It was very disappointing,” said Froch in reference to Joshua’s performance during an interview with IFL TV. “But what he can take away is that he lost to an amazing fighter. Proper, awkward, technical – probably one of the best southpaws I’ve ever seen.”
The superlative words hurled in the direction of Usyk are something that was, more or less, overlooked. At least, heading into his showdown against Joshua. For much of Usyk’s amateur and pro career, he out-skilled his opposition. However, the moment he landed in the heavyweight division in late 2019, Usyk struggled with the size and girth of his much larger opponents.
Ultimately, Froch was expecting Joshua to use his enormous frame to tilt the fight in his favor. In contrast, Joshua opted to box and move as opposed to bullying his man. As Froch recalls vividly what took place on the night, the long-retired former champion believes Joshua and his entire team took an erroneous approach.
“Usyk was brilliant, he’s like a magician in that ring. He didn’t have to do a great deal. I was disappointed in AJ. He didn’t have much success. I just feel like his game plan that he executed was all wrong.”
Froch’s comments of Joshua receiving a one-sided beating wouldn’t seem to correlate with the judge’s scorecards. Steve Weisfeld scored it narrowly in favor of Usyk, 115-113, while Howard Foster had it 116-112 for the Ukrainian. Viktor Fesechko, on the other hand, saw things a bit more differently, handing Usyk a 117-112 win.
Although those cards would indicate that their bout was a closely contested one, Froch is paying no mind to what the judges scored. To prove his point, Froch recollects the 12th and final round, where things got particularly ugly for Joshua.
“The finish in round 12,” said Froch while shaking his head. “That was a bad combination that AJ was on the end of. He looked like he was out on his feet ready to be stopped. It was a wide beating.”
Dr. Ironfist Passes The Torch to Usyk
By: John “Gutterdandy” Walker
Ukrainian boxing legend and former two-time WBC world heavyweight champion Vitali “Dr. Ironfist” Klitschko, currently the mayor of the country’s capital city of Kyiv, honored his countryman Oleksandr Usyk today, symbolically “passing the torch” to the man who put on a boxing display for the ages last Saturday in defeating former unified heavyweight world champ Anthony Joshua of the UK in London.
Vitali, who amassed a sterling record of 45-2-0 with 41 KOs, was the more feared of two Klitschko brothers who ruled boxing’s heavyweight division for more than a decade (his younger brother is Wladimir, who, unlike his brother, was not present today or in London for Usyk’s victory).
Mayor Klitschko symbolically awarded Usyk a WBC title belt as part of the ceremony.
Vitali Klitschko was a boxing gunslinger, and these days his reputation often suffers by his being unfairly lumped in with his younger brother’s more cautious, “jab and grab” style, when in truth Vitali seldom clinched his opponents, threw copious amounts of punches, and was blessed with a granite jaw that allowed him to fight with his hands held low. His career knockout percentage of 87 percent ranks among the best ever. He held the WBC heavyweight title twice, the second time winning it in his first fight after returning from over three years out of the ring due to a knee injury.
And the elder Klitschko brother was mightily impressed by what he saw when Usyk bravely took on a much bigger man in Joshua, fighting with skill and aggression and emerging the victor, winning the WBA, WBA, and IBF titles.
“I once again congratulate you on your victory and want to present a symbolic gift to you. You now hold four heavyweight championship belts, but you do not have a WBC belt in this category yet,” Klitschko told Usyk.
“And you will definitely win it,” an enthused Klitschko continued.
“I am presenting you with the first WBC belt with a large Ukrainian flag, which was made for the WBC Convention that took place in Kyiv in 2018. This is to make you lucky and motivated! After all, your idol, Muhammad Ali, also held such a belt,” Klitschko continued.
Also, present via video link to the ceremony was WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman, whose organization gave Vitali the title of “Eternal World Heavyweight Champion.” Usyk thanked Klitschko for the honors and good wishes and told Sulaiman that the WBC strap would be the next trophy that he collects.
Usyk has expressed the desire to now spend time with his family and wants any rematch with Joshua to take place in his homeland of Ukraine.
You’re Looking At The Best Heavyweight In The World
By: Hans Themistode
Was he ever truly in the conversation? Of course not.
The best heavyweight in the world had ultimately come down to a pair of British natives and an American with a heavy right hand. Tyson Fury, Anthony Joshua, and Deontay Wilder all looked the part.
Joshua was a Greek God. His body was seemingly made from granite, his good looks made all of the women melt and his propensity for knockouts fit the bill perfectly. Tyson Fury didn’t have all of the hulking muscles. But he had quite possibly the best attribute on his side, reputation. Sure Fury could have an occasional lackluster showing, but with wins over Dereck Chisora, Wladimir Klitschko, and Deontay Wilder – Fury’s placement amongst the best in the world is well warranted.
Although Fury and Joshua stole most of the headlines, former heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder was never forgotten. His physique seemed punitive and his fighting style could be described as both archaic and one track-minded. That said, Wilder holds arguably the most deleterious right hand in boxing history.
It was those three, no one else, who was considered the best that the heavyweight division had to offer. But while they enjoyed the superlative words hurled in their direction and eyed matchups against one another for heavyweight supremacy, Oleksandr Usyk stood quietly in the shadows with a gap-toothed smile.
The Ukrainian has never been viewed as an afterthought. As an amateur, Usyk racked up a record of 335 wins against just 15 losses, making him one of the most accomplished in history. Along the way, Usyk defeated current unified light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev and current heavyweight contender, Joe Joyce. During the 2012 Olympic Games, Usyk breezed through the competition and found himself posing for pictures as he bit into his gold medal.
Once there was nothing left for him to accomplish in the unpaid ranks, Usyk made a b-line for the pro game. In just his tenth pro fight, he easily outboxed Krzysztof Glowacki for his first world title. Then, he took down the likes of Mairis Briedis, Murat Gassiev and Tony Bellew to wrap up an undisputed cruiserweight title run.
Usyk didn’t immediately make his announcement but we all knew it was coming. A move to heavyweight was inevitable. But once he officially made the jump, no one noticed his entrance. The Ukrainian and pound for pound didn’t stomp into his new weight class. Nor did he grab a microphone and toss around curse-filled threats. No, he didn’t violently kick open the door, he both casually and quietly walked through.
Once inside, Usyk’s gold medal still dangled around his neck, the four major world titles that he snagged while in the cruiserweight division were also sitting across his fairly broad shoulders. Still, no one cared or acknowledged his presence.
Even with a mandated world title shot at his disposal and the opportunity to demand immediate respect, Usyk calmly allowed several to skip him in line. He gladly stood aside and allowed both Anthony Joshua and Andy Ruiz Jr. part two, to take place. He moved to the side again, though involuntarily, as Joshua was forced to accommodate IBF mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev.
Even as Joshua took care of business once more and despite Usyk being guaranteed the next title shot, he openly accepted a backseat again. This time, to allow Joshua to take on Fury in an undisputed showdown. In the meanwhile, Usyk would take on amateur rival Joe Joyce.
Yet, with Deontay Wilder grabbing Fury by the hand and leading him to the dance floor, Joshua was left with defending his crown against Usyk. The game plan was simple, Joshua would placate Usyk by granting him his title shot and immediately leave him comatose on the canvas after a few rounds. Not only was that Joshua’s thought process, as he guaranteed a knockout win, but most believed their showdown would shake out in that exact same manner.
Usyk, of course, paid no attention to it. The Ukrainian continued to flash that same gap-toothed smile and made both media members and fans laugh with a quirky personality and broken English. His common catchphrase was “I’m feel, I’m very feel.” That very line even brought a chuckle to Joshua at times numerous times throughout their fight build-up.
Still, despite his effervescent attitude and accomplishments, Usyk’s time as a heavyweight was on the verge of being labeled a complete failure. After struggling with journeymen Chazz Witherspoon and Dereck Chisora in his first two dips in the heavyweight pool, many believed Usyk was in for a long and painful night at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in the United Kingdom this past Saturday night.
As the pound-for-pound star sauntered his way to the ring in front of a wildly pro Joshua crowd, his focus stood squarely on sending the masses home apoplectic. After 12 rounds of fairy one-sided action, Usyk did just that.
From the very beginning, Usyk dominated. He easily outboxed and outmaneuvered Joshua while consistently finding a home for his straight left hand. The middle rounds saw the former heavyweight titlist find a bit of his rhythm but it was Usyk who closed the show strong, almost stopping his man before the final bell.
Now, with three of the four major world titles tucked underneath his arm, the once incredulous looks that were glared in the direction of Usyk have turned into looks of worry. Those who doubted him are now sporting a sheepish expression on their face as this wasn’t the outcome many were anticipating.
Regardless of Usyk’s dominant victory, those in boxing circles will still point a confident finger in the direction of the winner of Deontay Wilder vs. Tyson Fury on October 9th, as the heavyweight division’s best fighter. Those assumptions, however, are undoubtedly wrong.
Usyk has never been second best. Not as an amateur, not in the Olympic Games, not as a cruiserweight, and certainly not as a heavyweight either.
Oleksandr Usyk On Anthony Joshua Victory: “It Was The Biggest Fight But It Wasn’t The Hardest One”
By: Hans Themistode
The resume of Oleksandr Usyk can match up with just about anyone in the entire sport of boxing.
In just his 10th pro fight, Usyk lifted his first world title against Krzysztof Glowacki. He would then go on to strip every cruiserweight belt holder of their championship status. This past Saturday night, at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, in the United Kingdom, Usyk added to the proliferation of world titles in his possession with a fairly one-sided victory against Anthony Joshua.
Usyk admits that defeating Joshua ranks as his most impressive victory. But in terms of the most difficult contest of his career, the Ukrainian isn’t willing to go that far.
“It was the biggest fight of my career,” said Usyk following his unanimous decision victory. “But it wasn’t the hardest one.”
Usyk, 34, ignored relentless boos as he marched through Joshua’s backyard to rip away his beloved championships. As the two stood next to each other during the ceremonial weigh-ins the day prior, Joshua towered over his man. The noticeable size difference between the pair did nothing to discourage Usyk on the night.
In the early goings, the newly crowned heavyweight titlist stepped right to Joshua and took the fight to him. Usyk landed several hard left hands and slickly avoided any oncoming traffic thrown in his direction. Although many predicted Joshua would eventually score a fight-ending knockout, it was Usyk who appeared to be on his way to picking up the stoppage win.
A visibly tired Joshua wilted against the ropes in the final seconds of the 12th round and appeared relieved once the bell rung. Usyk may have snagged Joshua’s heavyweight titles with relative ease, but the pound-for-pound star refused to downplay his opponent’s performance.
In fact, even with Usyk proving that he was the far more superior boxer, he tipped his cap in respect to Joshua for everything he’s accomplished.
“We expected all of this that happened in the ring. He was the Olympic champion, he was holding all of the belts except one. What more can I say about his performance?”
Roy Jones Jr.: “He [Anthony Joshua] Just Got To Hang Out With A Killer”
By: Hans Themistode
Roy Jones Jr. has a tremendous amount of respect for Oleksandr Usyk. The former multiple division titlist has watched closely from the sidelines as Usyk dominated the cruiserweight division. Jones Jr. has also been an interested observer as Usyk made the trek to the land of the heavyweights.
Yet, no matter how much Jones Jr. reveres the Ukrainian, even he was taken aback by what took place last night.
In front of a jam-packed crowd at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, in the United Kingdom, Usyk caused a huge upset as he strolled into the backyard of Anthony Joshua and stripped him of his heavyweight titles.
Even with his astute boxing mind, Jones Jr. simply didn’t expect things to shake out the way they did. With Joshua holding a considerable height, reach, weight, and overall size advantage, Jones Jr. was fully expecting him to use all of his physical attributes on the night, especially early on.
That said, Joshua conceded much of the preceding rounds before ultimately losing a fairly wide decision. Even now, as several hours have gone by, Jones Jr. is still scratching his head as to why Joshua came out so passive.
“Joshua came out and gave Usyk respect right away,” said Jones Jr. during an interview with IFL TV. “He let Usyk basically control the center of the ring, so Usyk won the first three rounds. I was surprised.”
Usyk, a former 2012 Olympic gold medalist, broke Joshua down in the first six rounds before cruising to the finishing line. In the 12th and final round, in particular, Joshua appeared to be on his way out. The muscular former heavyweight titlist languished against the ropes as Usyk connected on several unanswered shots.
Immediately following his defeat, Joshua stepped up to the podium and announced that he would be invoking his rematch clause. Since his declaration, several boxers, including Josh Taylor, and Dillian Whyte – have admitted that they don’t like the chances of Joshua heading into part two.
For Jones Jr., he isn’t entirely ruling out a Joshua victory in the sequel. But while the all-timer could have gone into the Xs and Os and described the picture-perfect game plan for Joshua to use, he abstained from doing so. In the end, the bigger alteration that Joshua can make should come between the ears.
“There are a few adjustments he can make. A lot of it is mental, a little bit is boxing but it’s more mental than boxing. He’s just got to hang out with a killer. When I say a killer, I mean a killer in the boxing ring, not outside. He’s a very good guy and that’s fine. I was a very good guy but when I got in that boxing ring, I was a killer. He’s got to get that killer mentality.”
Oleksandr Usyk Quiets The Naysayers, Beats Anthony Joshua
By: Hans Themistode
It was inevitable.
After sharing the gold medal stage in the 2012 Olympic Games, albeit in separate weight classes, heavyweight titlist Anthony Joshua knew he would eventually face Oleksandr Usyk. Nine years following their Olympic triumphs, the two met at the top of the heavyweight mountain top.
Oleksandr Usyk sauntered his way to the ring with a sly smile on his face. The British crowd who booed his entrance seemingly had no effect on the Ukrainian native. As the opening round tipped off to start their contest, the crowd roared as Joshua flicked several jabs in the direction of his man.
None, however, landed as Usyk proved to be far too elusive in the early going. The former undisputed cruiserweight bounced on his toes and began moving side to side. While he seldom threw any shots, Usyk was patiently waiting for the perfect opening. That would come just one minute into the first round.
As Joshua uncorked a strong right hand, Usyk slipped the shot and landed a straight left hand. With his first connect on the night, Usyk began putting the pressure on his man. The punches of the Ukrainian may have come few and far between but he feinted Joshua to no end and caused the former unified heavyweight titlist to come out of position on several occasions.
In the following frame, Usyk enjoyed even more success. He pushed out a strong jab and used unorthodox angles to make Joshua miss on several occasions. As Joshua’s punches failed to connect, Usyk made him pay, landing numerous jabs and straight lefts.
Those previously mentioned left hands of Usyk became a consistent theme throughout their showdown. Joshua, while game, was unable to avoid the nonstop barrage of the Ukrainian early on.
Still, although Usyk remained effective, Joshua continued to move forward. As the middle rounds came rolling by, the former heavyweight titlist began finding his range. He connected on several hard right hands that seemed to stagger Usyk into the ropes. Despite the success, Usyk flashed a bright grin. From there, he moved back to the center of the ring and easily outboxed his man again.
During the seventh round, Joshua continued to attack the head of Usyk but to no avail. Seemingly through with his one-sided tactics, Joshua went downstairs to the midsection in an attempt to slow him down.
Usyk grimaced in pain during the eighth round as the work rate and pressure of Joshua continued to increase. As the rounds continued to slowly pass by, Usyk, fighting on foreign ground, refused to sit back on his laurels. The former cruiserweight undisputed champion pushed the pace and found a home for his straight left hand.
During the championship rounds, a heavily breathing Joshua lumbered to the middle of the ring. Usyk, on the other hand, appeared fresh as he continually bounced up and down on his toes. While Usyk spent the majority of their contest outboxing his man, he spent the remainder of their bout bullying Joshua. In the 12th, in particular, Usyk pressed Joshua up against the ropes and unloaded several unanswered shots.
Joshua, to his credit, had on his best poker face. He smiled at Usyk and stuck out of his tongue as he egged him on. Regardless of the hubris Joshua showed, the three judges scoring the contest from ringside simply weren’t buying it as they handed Usyk the unanimous decision victory.
Power Shots: Evaluating The Heavyweight Division
By: John “Gutterdandy” Walker
The lack of buzz for the upcoming clash later on tonight between unified heavyweight champ Anthony Joshua of the UK and Oleksander Usyk of Ukraine has been a bit puzzling.
After all, “AJ” is the holder of a number of HW straps, and Usyk was once the totally unified champ of the cruiserweight division, the still unbeaten conqueror of the formidable and now fellow heavyweight Murat Gassiev. One would think that boxing fans would be looking forward to this clash of the titans with rabid expectation.
But in actuality, the event has been very under the radar. UK sportswriters have largely written off Usyk as being “too small” to beat their muscled Adonis. There has been a certain degree of ennui in the press reporting in general, with no small amount of resentment that Usyk has gotten in the way of the fight that “everyone” (everyone in the UK at least) wanted to see: AJ vs Tyson Fury. You’d think the name Andy Ruiz Junior just might have occurred to some of the boxing “experts” claiming that great size and sculpted muscles always determine a heavyweight fight, but alas, how soon they forget.
The final presser for Joshua vs Usyk yesterday was very civil and did little to create the kind of freak show atmosphere that people who follow was is loosely called “boxing” have gotten used to over the last couple of years, thanks to Zoomer “influencers” (one of the more annoying terms I’ve ever heard) like the notorious Paul brothers.
People argue over whether the “YouTuber,” celebrity boxing scene is good or bad for the sport, but one thing that seems sure is that a segment of people now expect a boxing match to provide a carnivalesque, freak show atmosphere that the Usyk vs Joshua title bout is sorely lacking (though Usyk did at least wear a colorful outfit to the presser that was apparently a partial tribute to The Joker).
Everything Old Is Old Again
So, is a mere high level boxing match just not good enough anymore? Would people rather shell out $70 or more to see 58-year-old Evander Holyfield look like a pitiful shell of his former self? Holyfield apparently was not deterred by his recent disastrous return to the ring against one Vitor Belfort, and still wants to face old ear-biting nemesis Mike Tyson — who is partly to blame for this trend of old fighters getting back on the boards, after cleaning up financially with his glorified sparring session against an out of shape Roy Jones Jr. — for a third time.
Fortunately, the spectacle of the always fit-looking Holyfield nevertheless looking every bit his age in the ring was so shocking that the people looking to put Riddick Bowe back in the ring have now decided against it. Anyone with a brain in their heads who has listened to Bowe talk in the last decade should have known better than to ever entertain the idea of a ring “comeback” for the man, but it took Holyfield’s ring misadventures to finally convince Bowe’s backers to back off.
But have no fear, lovers of car-crash style, old-guy boxing. Holyfield may be down, Bowe may be out, but never a guy to be outdone, James Toney is gearing up for his comeback! The only question left is: where the heck is Shannon Briggs?
Hrgovic and Makhmudov: Young Guns With No Targets
All the attention on boxing’s old-timers lately has left true up and coming possible heavyweight superstars – Croatia’s Filip Hrgovic and Montreal’s Arslanbek Makhmudov – out in the cold, begging for table scraps. The sport’s lack of structure means that truly fearsome talents like these are ignored for as long as possible by the guys at the top of the division.
Makhmudov (13-0, 13 KOs) fought last evening in Quebec against the “best” name he could convince to share a ring with him, Germany’s Erkan Teper (21-4, 13 KOs), and what some anticipated as being a “test” of the hulking Russian-born fighter’s abilities quickly developed into a farce, as the pudgy Teper, who looked like he had literally just gotten off his couch and strolled into the ring, tasted the power of the “Lion” and quickly looked for the exits.
One round was enough, as Teper stumbled around, fell down, tried to hold on, and finally got knocked down by Big Mak. Teper had no intention of coming out for round two.
Makhmudov, a truly genial fellow, sheepishly addressed the Montreal crowd following the win: “He’s a good boxer, but not in the best shape,” he said charitably of his fallen German foe.
Anglo-America’s Ukrainian Nightmares
It pays to remember the reaction of the boxing world in Anglo-America when the Klitschko brothers, Wladimir and Vitali, essentially took over the heavyweight division for a decade and moved it to Germany. American and British boxing scribes who should have known better engaged in all sorts of xenophobic ranting about the dominant brothers, often cynically attributing their dominance to mere “size.”
Yet when the Klitschkos finally retired, and huge men like Deontay Wilder, Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua, all as big or bigger than the Klitschkos, came along, that “size” argument disappeared literally overnight.
No, the real problem was that the Klitschkos had snubbed America, and England, and absconded to continental Europe with the heavyweight belts. Given the hysteria and nastiness that followed, one can only imagine that the idea of a Croatian heavyweight champion or a Russian-born, Quebec-based heavyweight champion doesn’t fill someone like Eddie Hearn with glee. Britain is now the center of heavyweight boxing, and therefore Hearn and others who run the sport are in no hurry to risk a Hrgovic or Makhmudov again taking the “glamor division” away again.
So there they sit, these young guns like Hrgovic and Makhmudov getting older by the minute, forced to sit for long periods of time and then only fight guys who can’t even begin to test them. They remain unknown by all but the most ardent followers of the sport, while the Paul Brothers and other social media celebs get all the attention, and make millions of dollars to boot.
The biggest threat to the current order for the moment, however, is posed by Oleksander Usyk, who seeks to follow in the footsteps of his countrymen the Klitschkos and take the heavyweight belts home to Ukraine. Perhaps there’s been so little buzz about this fight in boxing circles, and such casual dismissal of a great fighter like Usyk, because the latter man is the biggest threat to the new order since the brothers from Ukraine first spoiled things for the Anglo-Americans.
The powers that be simply can’t allow themselves to imagine a Usyk victory over Joshua. And no doubt should Usyk prevail, the first words out of Eddie Hearn’s mouth will be:
Oleksandr Usyk Will Stake His Claim at Pound For Pound Supremacy Against Anthony Joshua
By: Hector Franco
This weekend in the United Kingdom, arguably the biggest star in boxing will fight for the first time in 2021 when Anthony Joshua (24-1, 22 KOs) defends his WBA, WBO, and IBF heavyweight titles against the Ukraine’s Oleksandr Usyk (18-0, 13 KOs).
Initially, Joshua was set to take on lineal and WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury in what would have been the most significant bout of the year. However, Fury found himself legally obligated to face Deontay Wilder in a third fight, putting an end to the fight with Joshua.
Following the legal debacle with Fury, Joshua was then forced to focus on his WBO mandatory Oleksandr Usyk.
Usyk is one of the greatest amateur boxers of all time, holding an impressive 335-15 amateur record along with winning multiple amateur tournaments, including a gold medal at heavyweight at the 2012 Olympic games in London.
As a professional, Usyk has found nothing but success winning the World Boxing Super Series cruiserweight tournament in 2018. Usyk took on the best fighters the division had to offer throughout the tournament, earning victories over then-undefeated fighters Mairis Briedis and Murat Gassiev.
In the tournament finals, Usyk was crowned the winner holding the coveted Muhammad Ali trophy and laid claim to the undisputed cruiserweight championship holding all four major world titles in the weight class.
To cap off 2018, the Ukrainian defended his undisputed crown against the United Kingdom’s Tony Bellew, scoring an emphatic eighth-round stoppage. Usyk would become the unanimous fighter of the year in 2018, winning the honor from The Ring Magazine, the Boxing Writers Association of American, Sports Illustrated, and ESPN.
Currently, Usyk is ranked as one of the best fighters in the world, pound-for-pound sitting at the number four spot by Ring Magazine.
After accomplishing all he could at cruiserweight, Usyk set his sights up the weight scale at the heavyweight division.
Usyk made his heavyweight debut in October 2019, taking on journeyman Chazz Witherspoon who was on an eight-fight winning streak heading into the match.
While scoring a seventh-round stoppage over Witherspoon, Usyk’s performance wasn’t up to par compared to his previous fights giving many doubts about his prospects at heavyweight.
In his next fight in October 2020, Usyk stepped up the competition taking on perennial heavyweight contender Derek Chisora.
Usyk improved upon his performance with Witherspoon against Chisora, scoring a clear unanimous decision putting himself in the position to challenge for the WBO heavyweight title.
Joshua will be a massive jump for Usyk, who will have significant size and reach disadvantages. Usyk is current a +225 underdog against Joshua, who also won a gold medal at the 2012 Olympic games, but at super heavyweight.
Joshua reportedly stands at 6’6 compared to the Ukrainian southpaw’s 6’3 with a 4-inch reach advantage.
However, Usyk may have seen weaknesses that he feels he can exploit against Joshua, most notably in his loss to Andy Ruiz in the summer of 2019. Joshua would win a unanimous decision out boxing Ruiz in the rematch later that same year, but will Joshua be able to outbox a fighter as technically sound as Usyk?
“I can outbox him; of course I can,” Joshua stated during the final press conference. “And I can out-strength him. You have to have a bit of aggression, boxing skill, head movement. There is not just one factor that determines a fight. Obviously, we have our go-to, our strength.
“I will use my strengths. But it’s called a boxing match for a reason. I love the sweet science. I will display my boxing skills, but I won’t make it too complicated in there.”
Most of the boxing world has generally put Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, Terence Crawford, or Naoya Inoue at the top of their pound-for-pound lists, with Alvarez sitting at the number one spot in the majority of publications.
However, a victory over Joshua for Usyk would trump a victory for Alvarez over Caleb Plant to become the undisputed super middleweight champion, as Plant is a massive underdog who hasn’t been in the ring with elite competition.
After more than three years at welterweight, Crawford finally got a fight with a top fighter in the division when he takes on former two-time welterweight champion Shawn Porter in November. But Crawford will also be a favorite over Porter, who at this point has lost his biggest fights.
Pound-for-pound lists are fun to discuss and argue with among fans, but the fact is those lists are based more on fantasy than reality.
Usyk becoming a unified heavyweight champion to go along with his credentials at cruiserweight should put him at the top of any list. However, the reality is due to size, Usyk would easily beat Alvarez or Crawford.
Also, Usyk has shown just as high an IQ and skillset as both men.
“This is the biggest fight of my career right now,” said Usyk at the final press conference. “My opponent is the biggest, an Olympic champion with three world titles. He is a cool opponent. I am looking forward to the victory.
“I have put in all the work and effort, and I will demonstrate what it means to me.”