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USYK VS JOSHUA 2: Ferocious Puncher Against Gun-Shy Powerhouse

USYK VS JOSHUA 2: Ferocious Puncher Against Gun-Shy Powerhouse

In the movie John Wick, the Titular character was known as Baba Yaga. It was not accurate. Baba Yaga is actually an evil, forest-dwelling spirit in the shape of a deformed woman. John Wick should have been called Babay or The Bogeyman, an evil night spirit that abducts naughty children. In the East he is known as Babay. In the West he is known as The Bogeyman. And as far as the heavyweight boxing division is concerned, he is known as Oleksandr Usyk.

The Ukrainian juggernaut shocked the world in September 2021 when he handed out the most comprehensive of beatings to former unified heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua and wrenched the WBA, WBO & IBF belts from his grasp. So one sided was the performance that all three judges scored in Usyk’s favour earning him a unanimous decision.

Also Read – Holyfield: Joshua Must Be Aggressive Against Uysk

The result shook up the entire boxing world and torpedoed the highly anticipated megafight between Joshua and great British rival and WBC champion Tyson Fury to crown the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world. The Ukrainian was already undisputed cruiserweight champion but he became unified heavyweight champion after only three fights. He had been written off as hype job and biting off more than he could chew ahead of his clash with Joshua in London. But there were those who knew the true danger the Ukrainian possessed and predicted he would be a dangerous adversary if he ever made the move to the heavyweight division.


Oleksandr Usyk

But what makes the Ukrainian such a fearsome opponent? First, it’s the tremendous volume of punches that he throws and lands. Boxers in the heavyweight and cruiserweight rarely throw more than 30 punches on an average per round. That’s an average of 360 per fight. They don’t need as much volume because they know they possess the power to end the fight with just one punch. 

However Usyk threw an astonishing 939 punches when he beat Murat Gassiev to unify the cruiserweight division 2018, landing 252. He brought this tremendous work rate to the heavyweight division, outstanding Chazz Witherspoon, Dereck Chisora and Anthony Joshua. You see, he virtually DROWNS the opposition in punches. He throws 5 or 6 punch combos, very rare in the top two divisions. He is perpetually in motion making him difficult to hit. The sheer volume of punches he throws disorients his opponents, giving him the time to take an angle or move his head to avoid a counter.

Then Usyk has an incredibly accurate jab. You see the jab is the number one punching technique in boxing. Usyk throws continuous, accurate jabs, disrupting his opponents’ timing and focus. He also has a superb counter, slipping and countering with devastating effectiveness.

Then most importantly, he’s a southpaw. Orthodox fighters have always struggled with southpaws. Now imagine just how tough it must be facing an animal like Usyk. It was all these tools he brought into the first fight against Anthony Joshua and earned a stunning victory. But can he do it again?

Also Read: ‘I’m Under Pressure’ —Joshua Admits Ahead World Title Fight With Usyk

For Joshua, plenty has been made about his atrocious game plan in September. Whoever thought it was a brilliant idea for Joshua to even attempt to outbox Usyk should be publicly whipped. No man in the heavyweight division can outbox Usyk. Not even Tyson Fury. The fact is, Fury wouldn’t even try to. He’d go in the ring, impose his size and reach and break out the sledgehammers from Round 1. Because that’s how you fight a phenomenon like Usyk. You can’t outbox him. So you must overpower him. Every punch you land must be powered by malice, hate, bad intentions and a desire to do damage. But can Joshua catch a man who moves like the wind?

Joshua has teamed up with new trainer Robert Garcia. Garcia was a world champion as a fighter and went on to train world champions, including his brother Mikey Garcia, who won world titles in four divisions. But he has never trained a heavyweight to world championship before. His biggest task is to give Joshua ironclad belief in himself.


Anthony Joshua

He has the weight, the height, the power and the reach to dominate any fight. But there is belief that he’s gun shy. Like he’s afraid of getting his pretty face fucked up. That he’s preserving it for a career in TV or the movies. That he’s afraid to get his orbital socket smashed, his nose or jaw broken or face sliced open with blood pouring down his face. If that’s true, then it’s obvious he chose the wrong profession. In the heavyweight division these are clear and ever present dangers. He must understand that injury and even death are real possibilities. You see, what we really want to see from Joshua in this fight is: has he learnt how to take punch and keep going? Is he ready to embrace true darkness, knowing that he must put his own life on the line and be willing to kill the other man if that’s what it takes? Because Usyk won’t go quietly into the night. For one night, he is the symbol of a beleaguered and brutalized nation. Every punch he throws, he throws on behalf of 45 million Ukrainians. He is fighting for something greater than himself. That can either be an overwhelming weight..

Or a lethal mix of rocket fuel and cocaine. Interestingly Garcia knows Usyk well. The Ukrainian has previously trained at his gym in America and he has seen him and the threat he poses first hand. His strategy for this fight will be an interesting one.

Joshua is clearly the underdog. In fact, many believe it would be an upset if Joshua wins. There are always three outcomes in any fight. He can either win, lose or draw. Two of those outcomes don’t favour him. And the only way he can beat Usyk is to catch him and nail him with something concussive enough to put him down and keep him down. But catching a man who moves like Usyk is not going to be easy. Joshua’s cardio must be superb enough to stay on him for as long as it takes. If he piles on too much pressure he could gas out too early. If he lets the fight go on for too long, he will lose on points. It’s an intriguing contest and one thing I can guarantee, is that no matter who wins or how it ends, it will be better than the first fight.

You see, Usyk doesn’t have to win. A draw suits him just fine. But Joshua is CONDEMNED to win. Or he will go down in infamy as a gassed up British/Nigerian hype job. My head tells me Usyk is just too slick for AJ and will win. But my heart says Joshua will right the wrongs of the past & banish the ghosts of London. He may well break my heart. But he can’t do any worse than Lagos girls have done to my ticker. So who will win in Jeddah on Saturday night? Usyk and his twin daggers, cutting and slicing you to death by a thousand cuts? Or will it be Joshua wielding his mighty claymore capable of chopping a man in half? Do I go with my head or my heart? I have consistently backed Anthony Joshua to win. And I won’t change my stance now.

Something tells me he will prevail. His win will go a long way to soothe Nigerian anguish over the Super Eagles missing out on the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup. World 100m hurdles champion Tobi Amusan has done a lot in that regard. But an Anthony Joshua win would do much more.

By Babatunde Koiki, @BabatundeKoiki (Twitter)



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