Michael Hunter believes the craft and slickness of Oleksandr Usyk will cause Anthony Joshua significant issues in next Saturday’s heavyweight title fight at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London.
WBA Super, WBO and IBF king Joshua remains a clear 2/5 favourite with BetFred, with Usyk priced at 2-1 and the draw a 25-1 shot, but many seasoned observers believe that the Ukrainian stylist has the poise and pedigree to confound the defending champion.
Heavyweight contender Hunter, who dropped a points verdict to Usyk in a WBO cruiserweight title fight in April 2017, says the skilful Ukrainian will pose major problems and Joshua will need to stick to a shrewd game plan to prevail. This is a bout for the brain and not bravado.
“[Usyk] is fleet-footed and defensive-minded. It will be very difficult to actually get a win over Usyk in a certain fashion,” Hunter told Sky Sports. “Joshua will have to have a concrete game plan and follow it. It will be a very hard task. If he pulls it off? Give the man credit. Because this style of fighting, for him, is the most difficult.
“Even though [Usyk] doesn’t focus on hitting hard, he has enough power to absorb and withstand punches. He is bulking up and he is taller than me, he has some length to him. He will do exceptionally well. He hasn’t taken any Ls and hasn’t been in any trouble since he’s been pro.
“A lot of people are saying he hasn’t performed to the best of his abilities. Against Joshua, he will have to. He has done it a few times before, like at the Olympics. He is a Grade-A boxer. Joshua is still learning on the job, going through experiences. There is an element of surprise because we don’t know what type of Joshua will come out. We know what type of Usyk will come out, we just don’t know at what level.”