- Tim Burke
Can Anthony Joshua Comeback?
Oleksandr Usyk had a stunning upset victory over boxing icon Anthony Joshua at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and became the new unified heavyweight champion. It was shocking to see Joshua lose in front of the home crowd in England. Usyk fought a great fight and was outboxed for the majority of their twelve round fight. There is no denying the better man won. However, being one of the biggest athletes on the planet, Anthony Joshua has a lot of questions he will need to answer after his second upset loss in his last four fights. Let's dive into the reasons why Joshua lost the fight.
Boxing pundits repeatedly stated over the weekend that Joshua needed to get off to a quick start in order to beat Usyk in order to win the fight. Joshua did the exact opposite. He lost the first three rounds on all three judges' scorecards. Many people believed he looked afraid or hesitant to press Usyk during the fight. Boxing legend George Foreman had this to say via his Twitter after the fight. “AJ just seems confused. I've been there; too many in his ear. Make up your mind and be yourself. “A puncher.”” A lot of fellow fighters share Foreman’s view of Anthony Joshua. That is probably because of the former unified heavyweight champ’s particularly slow and inactive start which in my opinion was his worst stretch of the fight. The slow start was probably due to the fact AJ’s game plan was to outbox his more skilled opponent. Joshua’s close friend and promoter Eddie Hearn said after the fight that Joshua had a poor game plan going into the Usyk fight. Usyk is widely considered one of the most skillful boxers in the game today. Fellow British fight Tony Bellew has called Usyk “the best boxer I ever faced.” Despite being the bigger, stronger and more powerful puncher Joshua did not play to those strengths he wanted to outbox Oleksandr Usyk. How did that turn out? Well the results speak for themselves. Honestly, I was surprised how good Joshua looked in the middle rounds of the fight. The opinion of many was Joshua needed to put Usyk away early in order to win the fight. Otherwise, Usyk would take over. That did not happen. Joshua’s inactivity gift wrapped the first three rounds to Usyk. Once round four began Anthony Joshua took over the fight. He made the necessary adjustments to swing the fight back into his favor. Once the bell rang at the end of round nine, I thought AJ had the fight in the bag. Unfortunately, I was wrong. What makes heavyweight boxing so exciting is how unpredictable it can be. I do not think anyone could have expected Usyk to tag the bigger Joshua in the eye and change the course of the fight. The eye injury was particularly strange. From rounds 9-12 or “The championship rounds” Joshua’s eye was in very bad shape. He could not see out of that eye from round nine on. Interestingly enough Joshua was ahead or tied on all of the judges' scorecards through the first eight rounds. Does he win the fight without the loss of vision in his eye? Who knows. Fortunately for Joshua the eye looked better after the conclusion of the fight.
Anthony Joshua has exercised his rematch clause to face Usyk again in early 2022. Currently, there are not many people who believe in the two time heavyweight champion to avenge his loss to Usyk. I am not one of those people. Anthony Joshua is the bigger stronger fighter. Advantages he did not use in his first match with Usyk. They also did not look levels apart. It was an extremely competitive fight. Usyk had a great performance but it is not like he went untouched. In fact, his face was cut and bruised pretty badly by the time the fight was over. Anthony Joshua is a true champion fighter. He has overcome adversity before, he has heart and he can knock out any heavy weight fighter. He is a hard man to bet against. However, Usyk is arguably the pound for pound best fighter in the world right now. Do not skip this rematch. It could be one for the ages.