Anthony Joshua could have been forgiven for avoiding this rematch with Oleksandr Usyk given how definitively the Ukrainian won their first bout. Boxers’ careers are often so carefully managed you could argue about if taking the rematch is the best decision.
But somewhat perversely, AJ may well take some confidence from the fact he got his gameplan wrong last time out and so will fancy his chances this time around.
Here’s 3 top tips from our Joshua v Usyk #WhatOddsPaddy markets for the second showdown in Saudi between these two.
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AJ got it very wrong last time out in trying to outbox the boxer. With a background in traditional Ukrainian folk dancing, Usyk’s movement is elite making him a nightmare to hit. While the Brit isn’t a bad boxer, he isn’t at the level of the now three-belt champion or fellow strap holder Tyson Fury. Last time out, Joshua didn’t play to his strengths, which is, well, his strength.
The fight played out pretty ideally for Uysk with AJ mainly moving on a swivel allowing his opponent to move in and out of range while clipping AJ with straight punches at relative ease.
I don’t foresee Usyk gameplan changing too much from the first fight. While we could well see a different AJ, using his physical advantages to cut the ring off and backing up his opposition, that doesn’t change much of what Usyk will try to do, it may just make it more difficult.
As per above, the Ukrainian is a masterful boxer and even with Joshua trying to bully him, this isn’t his first rodeo. We’ve seen his chin hold up at heavyweight against the same opponent already and the likes of Derek Chisora. While he looked the more likely to land a KO in their first fight, I’m not sure it’s something he’ll chase.
A points victory is Usyk’s clearest path to victory and given he’s a level above Joshua as a boxer, I think a high proportion of his decision victories are unanimous and so it makes sense to take the bigger price rather than just the straight win on the scorecards.
This is one that I think is a big price relative to its actual likelihood. The odds at the time of writing give an implied likelihood of about 31%. I personally would have zero knockdowns in this fight much closer to the 50%, even money, mark.
Like I said earlier, I expect Usyk to fight similarly to their first bout and while he can certainly stun AJ, I’m not sure he has the power to put him down. One interesting side note coming into this fight will be Joshua’s weight. Should he come in heavier than last time, you can reasonably expect his chin to hold up accordingly as well.
AJ will be the one head hunting here and of course there’s a possibility that could leave him vulnerable, but I think the price offers plenty of compensation. Usyk’s chin has held up fine to this point in his heavyweight career.
I’d consider Chisora a good yardstick of any fighter’s chin at heavyweight and Usyk passed that test. This price seems heavily predicated on Joshua landing his shots here and while you can expect him to at least try and land at a better rate than the first fight, given how Usyk made him miss, I think the price here represents value.
UK judging has been rightly under scrutiny in recent times. Josh Taylor v Jack Catterall is the most high-profile example and this led to Tyson Fury requesting no British judges on duty for his recent fight with Dillian Whyte.
We’ve also seen eyebrow raising scorecards in Leigh Wood v Mick Conlan and Kiko Martinez v Zelfa Barrett.
In the first Joshua v Usyk fight, Howard Foster’s 115-113 scorecard in favour of Usyk was not a tally I had on my own sheet. It would’ve only taken one more round for Joshua and a fight that wasn’t that close, is a draw. So, this bet offers a decent price based on the big name in the bout getting the rub of the green.
Keep an eye out for who the judges are when they’re announced but if this fight ends up close down the stretch, I really do think it could be a runner.
*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widgets, while odds in copy are accurate at time of publishing but subject to change