Anthony Joshua appears to be taking the surprising step of coming into his August 20 rematch with Oleksandr Usyk as lean, or if not leaner, than the 240lbs that he weighed in for their first fight.
Two recent promotional images from the sports drink company Lucozade show Joshua firstly sitting in the corner of a ring and sipping from a branded bottle.
The second, of a chiselled Joshua walking parallel to the ring ropes with his hands by his sides and his headguard up, concealing the majority of his face and giving the impression that, in a widely-understood boxing cliche, he is catching his breath, post-or-during exertion.
— Anthony Joshua (@anthonyjoshua) August 12, 2022
Such a comparatively slender physique poses the interesting tactical question as to whether Joshua will again attempt to outbox his Ukrainian opponent, prioritising lightness of body for speed, or whether, whilst endeavouring to me more aggressive, he is merely ensuring that in heat of Saudi Arabia, he has the 12-round conditioning with which to effectively and enduringly do so.
His build further marks an interesting contrast to recent footage seen of Usyk, who appears to have added significant size to his musculature.
Oleksandr Usyk less than two weeks out from the Anthony Joshua rematch…
— Michael Benson (@MichaelBensonn) August 7, 2022
The prevailing expectation, from fans, insiders, and punditry alike, has been that Joshua would come in heavier than 240lbs and that he would use his added size in an attempt to outmuscle and to eventually stop the undefeated champion. That a valiant show of tactical aggression, even in defeat, would be preferable to the approach he last adopted in September 2021; and that a stoppage victory is in fact his only chance of victory.
Indeed, only from minority corners will you hear it openly said that Joshua could outbox Usyk, with merely slight stylistic and trainer adjustment.
Though with tactics as yet undisclosed, are these images the first indication that Joshua will attempt to mix more boxing into his bullying than many suggest will be effective? Or having nearly been stopped himself in the closing rounds of their first fight, is this conditioned form instead a way of allowing him to reach the latter stages in a more competitive state.
Or…in these dizzying times of ‘post-truth’…are these in fact calculated and dated advertising images to lull everyone into the sense that Joshua is coming in lighter than he otherwise will?
At Wednesday’s press conference or at Friday’s weigh in, we will finally have our answer.