There’s a little over a fortnight to go until the showdown between WBA, IBF, WBO, and IBO heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua and former undisputed cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and promoter Eddie Hearn believes AJ’s “ferocious” power will be the key to victory.
Although it’s not the all-British undisputed clash between AJ and Tyson Fury that we had all hoped for and wanted, WBO heavyweight mandatory challenger Usyk can certainly cause the Watford fighter some problems when they meet on September 25th and a hometown win is far from guaranteed.
“I mean that fight is a brilliant fight,” Hearn told The Sportsman’s Dom McGuinness
“When I find myself in bed late at night, I find myself just analysing fights, that’s when you know you’ve got a good fight and a good card. And I must have gone through the Usyk fight a thousand times.
“You’ve got two Olympic gold medallists from London, you’ve got the unified world heavyweight world champion, you’ve got the undisputed cruiserweight world champion.”
Usyk, undefeated, a decorated amateur and one of the best pound-for-pound boxers in the world right now, will be no pushover for Joshua when they meet in north London, but Hearn believes that AJ has grown exponentially as a fighter
“I get less nervous now with AJ because of the experience he’s gained. When he started and he was fighting Charles Martin and [Joseph] Parker and [Wladimir] Klitschko, he actually really didn't know what he was doing.
“He had potential, he had ability, but he wasn’t a seasoned fighter. Now he’s a seasoned fighter and I believe in his ability, I believe in the improvements he’s made but I also know Usyk’s a really good fighter.”
Joshua’s opponent has built up a fearsome reputation as one of the finest fighters to grace the ring in recent memory, similar to his compatriot and close friend Vasyl Lomachenko. While Hearn believes AJ has the skills to compete with Usyk, he thinks that ultimately the Briton will find more success through his prowess as a big hitter, something that Usyk, who has only fought twice in boxing’s marquee division, will struggle to handle.
“I think AJ said ‘I don’t buy into the too big, too strong mentality.’ I do, and I think he has to get in there, be explosive, let his hands go and beat him up. He has the skill to compete with Usyk, but is that what you really want to do? That’s Usyk’s strength.
"When he gets the chance to let his hands go, this guy punches with ferocious speed and power, and I’m not sure Usyk can stand up to that.”
Anthony Joshua: 2/5
Oleksandr Usyk: 2/1