Matchbook’s Ryan Cahill breaks down ‘The Rage On The Red Sea’ rematch between Anthony Joshua and Oleksandr Usyk
An eagerly anticipated Heavyweight rematch takes place in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on Saturday as Anthony Joshua (24-2, 22 KO’s) looks to settle the score with the undefeated former Cruiserweight Champion and Current WBA, WBO, IBF and Ring Magazine Heavyweight king Oleksandr Usyk (19-0, 13 KO’s).
This is the second time “AJ” will attempt to win back his belts in a Saudi Arabian rematch.
In December 2019, Joshua avenged his shocking KO defeat at the hands of Andy Ruiz Jr by boxing in a strategic and disciplined game plan.
‘AJ’ enters, having been comprehensively outboxed and outfought by the masterful Ukrainian last September.
This would mean boxing to a game plan similar to the Ruiz rematch is entirely out of the question.
Joshua has made wholesale changes since the first fight, bringing in acclaimed trainer Robert Garcia who would appear to be his leading coach for this fight. This may hint that Joshua will need to drastically alter his ways to overcome one of the best this generation has seen and perhaps one of the best of all time in Usyk.
Usyk is as talented a fighter as it gets, has no significant flaws, and can do everything to a world-class standard.
The 6’3” Ukrainian moves with the fleetness of a man much smaller.
- His hands are quick
- His punch output is excellent
- His shot selection is splendid
He is as close to perfect as a boxer can get.
A mammoth task for the former gold medalist from Watford.
If you were to nitpick some of Usyk’s faults (and it would be nitpicking), he can start fights slowly. He has dropped early rounds in previous fights against the likes of Tony Bellew and Dereck Chisora, both lesser calibre fighters than Joshua.
This gives Joshua a window of opportunity to get to Usyk, albeit a small one. Joshua has a lovely jab, which needs to be his primary weapon here. He needs to take a front foot approach and allow the jab to create openings. He is the bigger, stronger man and needs to fight as such.
Breaking this down with a wager in mind, Usyk is trading as the 1.56 favourite for the rematch, having been around a 2.75 underdog in their first fight.
In my opinion, there is some value in that price, given how comprehensive the victory was the first time around.
The 1.4 that Usyk opened at seemed right to me. This week, Joshua seems a popular underdog, currently available to back at 2.86.
I would expect the Ukrainian’s price to continue to drift, which may present a decent Back to Lay opportunity for the trader types out there.
We will, however, delve into other markets to look for a more appealing wager.
The method of victory market is a competitive betting heat, The Usyk KO/TKO or DQ being the favoured outcome which trades at 2.9 as of the time of writing.
This is an attractive price to me, given the circumstances.
When we look back on the first fight, the 12th round ended with Joshua slumped to the ropes while Usyk asserted his dominance. Were there to be another minute in that round, you couldn’t help but feel the judges would have no longer been needed.
Subsequently, you would be seeing a much shorter price on the Usyk KO/TKO or DQ now were that the case.
If, as expected; Joshua elects to opt for an aggressive front foot approach early on and does not succeed in stopping Usyk (like so many others have failed to do) then he leaves himself open to the prospect of draining his already questionable gas tank, which was on show in the later part of their first fight.
Usyk could land sharp, stiff left hands on a weary and tiring Joshua.
This time around, Usyk looks notably more muscular, electing to add size. Perhaps aware that the Brit will try to bully him this time around? He now looks a solid heavyweight in stature, not known for his one-punch power but accumulation. This may help the Ukrainian in this area, although you could perhaps consider this a negative too, and may affect his stamina and agility.
There also must be some turbulence in the life of Oleksandr Usyk currently. A proud Ukrainian, he took to the front lines not long ago.
Although a fighter of such strong mental fortitude, you wonder what toll that may take on him.
Thankfully he realised the impact on his nation would be much greater inside the ring than it could ever be on the battlefield.
Ultimately, I expect a strong start from an eager Joshua, taking the fight to the Ukrainian early.
I favour Usyk to overcome this and gradually wear down his opponent as the fight progresses, leading to a late finish.
I am more than happy to back Usyk via KO/TKO or DQ in this spot at what is, to me, an attractive price.
- Usyk by KO/TKO or DQ @ 2.9