After a year overshadowed by his abandoned, undisputed title showdown with Tyson Fury, Anthony Joshua aims to lay down a marker for the rest of the heavyweight division with a statement win over Oleksandr Usyk at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London, on September 25.
Joshua-Fury fell down at the last hurdle in May after months of gratuitous talks when an arbitrator ruled that the ‘Gypsy King’ must face Deontay Wilder in a previously contracted trilogy fight instead. With Fury-Wilder III delayed from July 24 to October 9 after the WBC champion tested positive for Covid-19, the heavyweight division’s four major titles have so far remained dormant throughout 2021.
WBA Super, WBO and IBF title holder Joshua will now look to reanimate the division with a victory over dangerous, former undisputed cruiserweight king Usyk in two months’ time, live on Sky Sports Box Office in the UK.
Both men claimed gold at the London 2012 Olympics (Joshua at super-heavyweight, Usyk at heavyweight), but the Briton tasted glory after just three years of boxing, with the Ukrainian southpaw’s success the culmination of a long amateur journey. Nine years later, their paths will cross professionally in a London ring.
“I rate all my opponents. He’s good. It’s all about the final bell and whose hand is raised. He’s good but I’m better,” Joshua told Sky Sports.
“He is a great challenger for the heavyweight titles. I’m looking to do a good job, to handle business, because I have my eyes set on other things.
“I did mine [Olympic gold} in a short span of time. From the day I walked into the gym to getting to the Olympics and winning was three years. He has had a long, vast amateur career. We have been on the same trajectory as professionals. It shows the hustlers always meet at the top. The cream rises to the top.
“When you fight good opponents, people respect it. They have to give you credit. This is about being a throwback fighter and taking on all challenges. It’s about statement performances.”