Anthony Joshua Faces Unique Test Against Usyk

Mark Robinson/Matchroom Boxing

Anthony Joshua will make that walk to the ring again this Saturday in his native London, England.

The champ is jumping in with a relative unknown within his home division of heavyweight in Oleksandr Usyk.

Joshua (24-1, 22 KOs) is the reigning unified heavyweight champion. This week, he faces off against the former undisputed cruiserweight king Oleksandr Usyk live from Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London.

Anthony Joshua Runs The U.K.

Joshua was last in action in December 2020 in a successful defense of his three belts against Kubrat Pulev. ‘AJ’ dropped the Russian veteran multiple times before clinching a ninth-round knockout at The O2 Arena.

In addition, ‘AJ’ returns to the capital of the U.K. for his fifth stadium fight looking to create more history. Usyk is the current WBO mandatory challenger, and while Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder have their trilogy fight booked for Oct. 9, it was the best fight for him.

Oleksandr Usyk Steps Up

Now he mixes it with a super fight against Usyk, who is continuing his step up to the heavyweight division.

Usyk clinched the WBO Inter-Continental heavyweight title during a fight that advanced his campaign seriously within the division.

Both Joshua and Usyk hold Olympic gold medals from the London 2012 Olympics. Although Usyk is a relative unknown to boxing casuals, he is a dangerous opponent.

The Ukrainian is among the current best on the pound-for-pound list. Usyk (18-0, 13 KOs) moved to the heavyweight division after dominating at cruiserweight. In addition, he vacated his incredible run at 200 pounds as the undisputed king.

Although Joshua will have a home-field advantage, Usyk is no stranger to fighting in the U.K. Usyk has had a run of victories in his opponent’s backyard against Marco Huck, Mairis Briedis, Murat Gassiev, and Tony Bellew.

He began his assault on the heavyweight division by retiring Chazz Witherspoon in seven rounds in Chicago in October 2019. Usyk also dominated a game veteran in Derek Chisora in October 2020.

The Heavyweight Landscape

In the States, Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder are getting ready for their trilogy fight on Oct. 9 in Las Vegas. The winner will most certainly face the winner of the Joshua vs. Usyk fight.

Joshua was supposed to fight Fury before the negotiations fizzled, and Fury was ordered to honor a court order to give Wilder the match.

“August 14. That’s when the Fury fight was booked,” Joshua said to The Daily Mail. “It would have happened by now. We were meant to have fought by now, and here we are talking about it. But it will happen.”

A potential matchup between Joshua and Fury will be the biggest fight in British history. Both Fury and Joshua have impacted the pond in the States and are massive stars in their native U.K.

Potential British Blockbuster?

If Fury gets past Deontay Wilder and Joshua past Usyk, the two could generate historic pay-per-view numbers from the build-up and their real-life animosity.

“I know what people are saying about boxing politics, but I’ll promise before the end of my career I will have done everything in my power to fight Tyson Fury,” Joshua said.

“We saw it with Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao [not fighting until they were beyond their primes], but that was a superstar fight.”

Rhett Butler is a Boxing Writer Association of America Journalist, Play-By-Play Commentator, Combat Sports Insider, and Former Mixed Martial Arts and Boxing Promoter. The New York City native honed his skills at various news outlets including but not limited to: TIME Magazine, Money Magazine, CNN's Wolf Blitzer Reports, and more. Rhett hosts the PRITTY Left Hook podcast, a polarizing combat sports insider's take featuring the world's biggest names.