Anthony Joshua puts his IBO, WBA, IBF and WBO world heavyweight titles on the line against undefeated fighter Oleksandr Usyk on Saturday.
Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in England is the venue for the highly anticipated night where Joshua could face his toughest test to date.
Boxing betting lines have Joshua at -280 to win, but it might not be as easy as expected against the Ukrainian.
Is Usyk a Potential Champion?
Unbeaten records should always be taken with a grain of salt in boxing, but Oleksandr Usyk looks to be the real deal.
He has defeated many of the world’s most promising fighters, including a unanimous decision over Krzysztof Glowacki, Michael Hunter and Murat Gassiev.
The 34-year-old also scored technical knockout wins over Marco Huck and Tony Bellow before beating Dereck Chisora at Wembley Arena last October.
Facing Anthony Joshua is a level above those fights, but Usyk could be good enough to become the first Ukrainian title holder since the Klitschko brothers.
Tony Bellew watches back his fight against Oleksandr Usyk 🔙
— DAZN Boxing (@DAZNBoxing) September 12, 2021
General director of K2 Productions Alexander Krassyuk, who manages Usyk, believes his fighter has a next-level chin.
“Boxers can just throw a punch to the chin and hope to get lucky, and they might be once out of 10, but can they do it 10 times in a row?” Krassyuk told ESPN. “You have to box and win each and every round to win the title.
“You can’t compare him to the Klitschkos because that was 10 years ago. It’s more about the heritage than the fame. When you have the achievement of beating Joshua, something Wladimir couldn’t do, it will be huge.”
A win over Joshua would make Usyk a household name. He’s not currently one of the most talked-about fighters, but his unique style could throw off Joshua, who is a more traditional and technical fighter.
The sportsbook is giving Usyk some credit at +220. We expected him to be around +250 against the champion, so bookmakers are wary of his knockout potential.
Joshua’s Record Speaks Volumes
Joshua has had his fair share of critics, especially after his only career loss to Andy Ruiz. However, the Brit has bounced back in impressive fashion with consecutive victories.
The 31-year-old has come under fire by Tyson Fury, who has picked holes in Joshua’s record. The Gypsy King is arguably the best heavyweight in the world and he’s not shy of the trash talk.
“He fought Wladimir Klitschko at 42 years old, Kubrat Pulev 40-odd, Alexander Povetkin 40-odd,” Fury said. “They’re all former good men, back in the early 2000s, late 2000s, but not in 2020-odd. They were good men 10 years ago.”
Strategic warfare 🩸 pic.twitter.com/z6gPZ4oim7
— Anthony Joshua (@anthonyjoshua) September 14, 2021
Despite questions about the quality of his opponents, Joshua has scored 22 of his 24 victories by knockout. He is an aggressive fighter who made New Zealand’s Joseph Parker look second-rate before scoring a TKO win over Povetkin.
His win over Kubrat Pulev showed his class, despite the age difference.
However, he was exposed in his loss to Andy Ruiz, but it hadn’t been an ideal preparation for Joshua, who was caught off-guard. He hasn’t fought for nine months, but it has been longer for Usyk, so they’re on even terms.
Bet online markets have Joshua at -280 to win. The quote is short, but he’s fighting in front of home fans and that makes a big difference.
Bookmakers also have the total rounds set at 9½. Over 9½ has been backed into -140, so most fight fans think it could go the distance.
We would be surprised if either fighter landed a knockout blow in the early stages, but they are powerful fighters and the danger is always there.
Joshua vs Usyk Pick
Backing Joshua at a short quote isn’t easy, but he should come through unscathed and keep bettors happy.
He is the more well-rounded fighter, who has the benefit of home-ring advantage. He has also fought some of the biggest names in boxing, and it took a surprise performance from Ruiz to cause a blemish on his otherwise outstanding record.
The -280 line is about as short as we would suggest taking, but it’s the play.