Oleksandr Usyk is a “better boxer than Anthony Joshua” and has the tools to beat the British heavyweight champion when they meet at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on September 25th.
That is the view of former Olympic bronze medallist Anthony Ogogo, who has seen both men up close and personal at the London 2012 Games.
“It’s a great fight. Usyk is unbelievable,” Ogogo admitted on the Betfred Boxing Show. “I watched him school everyone at the Olympic Games. He’s so good. He’s a better boxer than Joshua, he’s got more string to his bow than Joshua.”
Stopping short of predicting a win against the odds for the visiting Ukrainian, the All Elite Wrestling star claimed that the considerable size advantage that ‘AJ’ possesses could be a deciding factor.
“Joshua has two and a half stone on him, which is the best equaliser anyone can have. I think Usyk outboxes him. However, 12 rounds and 36 minutes is a long time to run from somebody. At some point in the fight, Joshua is going to tag him, and when he does he probably knocks him out.”
Joshua is a 2/5 Betfred favourite to retain his heavyweight belts, although Ogogo doesn’t rule out a shock victory for the former cruiserweight king.
“I think the most likely outcome is either a Joshua knockout or Usyk on points. If Usyk was two inches taller and a stone heavier, nobody on the planet would beat him. I just think Joshua is too big.”
In what has been a frustrating time for the heavyweight division, it is a relief to be able to look forward to a fight of such magnitude, with Joe Joyce eyeing up the winner after being named mandatory challenger for the WBO strap.
Before any potential title fight can be discussed, ‘The Juggernaut’ must beat former Joshua foe Carlos Takam inside Wembley Arena on Saturday night.
Agogo was full of praise for the former Team GB man, adding that the 35-year-old is capable of winning a world title.
“I like Joe, he’s always in great fights,” Ogogo beamed. “He’s not that fast, but he’s big and strong and he’ll grind you down and bust you up like he did to Daniel Dubois.”
While Joshua and Usyk’s bout is grabbing the headlines, Ogogo has warned boxing fans not to sleep on the fight this coming weekend.
“Two big strong dudes punching lumps out of each other. It’ll be a great fight. Joe can win a world title.”
Back in the amateur setup, the Tokyo Olympics finally get underway this Friday, and after taking time away from the sport following his career-ending eye injury, the 32-year-old claims that he is able to look back fondly and give his sincere best wishes to the current crop.
“When I retired from boxing, I was very bitter and very upset. I actively ran away from boxing. It brought me hurt and pain. Now I’ve been away so long, I can look back fondly. I can genuinely wish the current crop of Olympians my very best, and mean it.”
Bursting with pride, Ogogo added that the days of Team GB boxers avoiding the traditional stronger nations are long gone, and that the British fighters are now the ones to watch.
“Gone are the days of wanting to avoid a Russian, a Cuban or a Ukrainian. We’re now the country that you want to avoid. We were minnows, now we are the heavyweights of the division that people want to avoid. It just shows how much we’ve come along. We keep getting better and better, and this will probably be our most successful boxing team ever.”
If that prediction is to come true, then the three names that Ogogo has backed for glory will have to put in lifetime best performances in Japan.
“Pat McCormack is probably our most talented boxer,” he claimed. “I really want Frazer Clarke to do well. He had to watch Anthony Joshua usurp him in 2012, he had to watch Joe Joyce usurp him in 2016. He had offers to turn pro I’m sure, yet said no to stay amateur. He deserves a good run in the Olympics.
“Charlie Davison, from my town and boxing club, is a mother with three kids and boxing at the Olympic Games. It’s amazing. I wish her the very best.”
Despite admitting being previously bitter about a sport that caused so much pain and anguish, it is refreshing to see Ogogo talk about his time as an Olympian so fondly.
“It was amazing. By far the pinnacle of my athletic career thus far. My one true dream was to become Olympic champion. Had I become Olympic champion in London in front of my family and friends, I probably would have retired from boxing. For me it was everything.
“The Olympics was the best time of my life, and I still won a medal. I’m very proud of that.”
With 11 Team GB hopefuls looking to make history of their own inside the ring this summer, here’s hoping there are plenty more success stories to tell when the Games are over.