Usyk vs Joshua II predictions: Champ can end rematch early

Henry Hardwicke
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Oleksandr Usyk is expected to retain his titles when he collides with Anthony Joshua for the second time
Oleksandr Usyk is expected to retain his titles when he collides with Anthony Joshua for the second time

The long-awaited rematch between Oleksandr Usyk and Anthony Joshua promises to be another cracking fight. 

Joshua lost his WBA Super, IBF, WBO and IBO world heavyweight titles to Usyk last September and is now on a mission to regain them. 

Former undisputed cruiserweight king Usyk, 35, produced a boxing masterclass at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium to dethrone the Londoner in stunning fashion. 

The rematch takes place on Saturday night in Saudi Arabia and is set to be an intriguing bout, despite the Ukrainian’s dominance in the first contest.

Joshua expected to change tactics

It was puzzling to see Joshua, 32, attempt to outbox Usyk in the first clash.

The reigning champ holds the advantage in terms of skill, boxing ability and ring craft and the Watford man appeared to play into the hands of his opponent in their first encounter. 

AJ has promised to close the gap and use his considerable size and power advantage this time — but it may not be that simple. 

Usyk will not allow the bigger man to move into range, land shots, hold and lean on his shoulders. 

He will still create angles to catch Joshua and may even find the Brit an easier target to hit. 

It is worth noting that Usyk was mighty close to stopping AJ in London and that outcome cannot be ruled out in the rematch. 

Joshua is certainly saying the right things, admitting the mistakes he made in the first contest, but perhaps the reasons behind his lacklustre approach are not being as openly communicated. 

His punch resistance has been questioned over the course of his career — he was rocked by Dillian Whyte, dropped by Wladimir Klitschko and stopped by Andy Ruiz. 

Joshua will be aware of that fragility and his apprehension in the first fight could well have stemmed from the anxiety of being caught with a big shot. 

Difficult build-up for Ukrainian hero

Oleksandr Usyk outclassed Anthony Joshua in their first fight
Oleksandr Usyk outclassed Anthony Joshua in their first fight

Usyk’s preparation has to be a genuine concern. 

The situation in Ukraine has shocked the world and his thoughts will, understandably, have been on his homeland. 

It is hoped the Simferopol southpaw has been able to focus on the task ahead but that is far from certain given the circumstances. 

Prediction

Usyk completely dominated the first fight and it is hard to see how Joshua can turn the tables. 

AJ was barely able to land a punch last time. And if his camp think that tinkering with tactics will be enough for their man to win the rematch, they may be in for a shock. 

The Ukrainian is a brilliant boxer, a genuine pound-for-pound contender and he is levels above the Briton. 

That was clearly evident in the first bout and it could be an even easier night’s work for Usyk in Jeddah, where he is fancied to stop his challenger.

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