Anthony Joshua will face Oleksandr Usyk next weekend in a huge heavyweight title clash.
Joshua was set to meet Tyson Fury to unite the heavyweight titles this summer, but the Gypsy King has been ordered to step down and face Deontay Wilder in their trilogy clash instead.
AJ had to find a new opponent and is now preparing to take on the dangerous mandatory WBO challenger Usyk.
“The Cat” is undefeated in his 18 pro fights to date and defeated Derek Chisora last October.
The Ukrainian will pose an extremely difficult test for Joshua who must win to keep his hopes of claiming all the heavyweight belts alive.
Here’s everything you need to know about heavyweight combat …
Joshua vs. Usyk: date and time
This 12-round heavyweight title fight will take place at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on saturday 25 september.
Joshua was scheduled to face Kubrat Pulev at the new Tottenham pitch last June, but that fight had to be transferred to Wembley Arena in December due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Promoter Eddie Hearn has confirmed that the main event ring walks will be earlier than normal and are set for 10pm.
The clash will be for Joshua’s WBA (Super), IBF, WBO and IBO titles.
It will be broadcast on Sky Sports Box Office. Their a la carte coverage will start from 6 p.m. and cost £ 24.95.
Joshua vs. Usyk: Undercard
Lawrence Okolie will defend his WBO cruiserweight title against mandatory challenger Dilan Prasovic on the undercard to Joshua v Usyk.
Also on the show, former WBA super middleweight champion Callum Smith will make his light heavyweight debut against Lenin Castillo.
The Briton was dethroned from his belt by Canelo Alvarez in December and has therefore put on weight in an attempt to become a two-division champion.
Ricky Hatton’s son Campbell Hatton will have his fourth professional fight against Izan Dura in a super featherweight clash on the card.
Florian Marku vs. Maxim Prodan at welterweight and Christopher Ousley vs. Khasan Baysangurov at middleweight will also feature.
Subject to change
- MAIN EVENT: Anthony Joshua (c) vs. Oleksandr Usyk – For WBA (Super), IBF, WBO and IBO heavyweight titles
- Lawrence Okolie v Dilan Prasovic – for WBO cruiserweight title
- Callum Smith vs. Lenin Castillo
- Campbell Hatton vs. Izan Dura
- Florian Marku vs. Maxim Prodan
- Christopher Ousley vs. Khasan Baysangurov
Joshua v Usyk: What was said?
When asked if Usyk would be his toughest opponent ever, Joshua told Sky Sports, “100% he will be. The movement means you’re never at the stationery to be touched. Movement is important.
“Concentration – when you want [punch], you lock yourself in, then make a move. You have to make sure your brain is working.
“It can be mentally tiring so I sharpen my mind so I can focus for the 12 laps.
“I also practice having the ability to [punch] four times, not once. Focus, take your time, pin it.
“It’s a fight for the brain. Know what you have in front of you and know how to deal with it.
“You can either be aggressive, corner [him], throw everything on it. Or take your time, be smart, then knock [him] outside.
Regarding his training and fitness, Joshua added, “I watch my weight but I’m not trying to gain weight because I’m a heavyweight.
“I adapt my training. I get a lot of experience, I fight good fighters for a long time, I studied them and I discovered their training camps.
“I learned to condition my body for specific fights. I am looking for trim for this fight.
“I’m fighting a guy who’s a 12 round fighter. So it would be silly of me to go in there bulky with my muscles screaming for oxygen.
“I trained like a 15 round fighter in this camp. I will be well conditioned to fight. This is the key.
“What happens when I train this way? My body adapts and takes its natural shape. This is the form he took.
Joshua v Usyk: who is “the cat”?
Many believe Usyk may well trouble Joshua and win his titles, putting an end to unification hopes against Fury.
Nicknamed ‘The Cat’, the 34-year-old from Shypyntsi, Ukraine, has achieved 18 consecutive victories as a professional so far.
Tony Bellew, who lost to Usyk in 2018, insisted Joshua will NEVER face a better boxer in his career than his next opponent.
“He will be the best boxer Anthony Joshua will face in his career,” the Liverpudlian told talkSPORT.
“When it comes to pure, natural boxing, Oleksandr Usyk is the most natural boxer Anthony Joshua has ever faced.
“He’s amazing at what he does. Considering that, he’s not a real heavyweight.
“Everyone keep going, yes he’s a cruiserweight, but he’s the greatest cruiserweight who ever put on gloves.
“So he comes with amazing skills, but I just think weight divisions exist in boxing for a reason.
“Come on rounds seven, eight and nine, he’s going to find out why he’s not a real heavyweight. I think Anthony Joshua’s speed, power and persistence will be what catches up with Oleksandr Usyk.
“I wish he would stop fighting with my friends because I want to support him!” I am a big admirer of him and I respect the boy so much, but he keeps fighting with my friends so I can’t support him.