Boxing

Usyk v Joshua: Trust the champ to retain his titles in style with another convincing points win

Oleksandr Usyk Boxing
Oleksandr Usyk is the champion and betting favourite to make it 2-0 against AJ

"Remember, a good boxer beats a good fighter."

Back Usyk on points @ 3.211/5

Anthony Joshua aims to win back the heavyweight title in Saudi Arabia for the second time, but Betfair's Frankie Monkhouse can't see past the skill of the champ...

Oleksandr Usyk v Anthony Joshua
Saturday, 22:00
Live on Sky Box Office

The wait is over

Oleksandr Usyk makes the first defence of the IBF, IBO, WBA and WBO world heavyweight titles he won from former champion Anthony Joshua in London last September. The hard-hitting duo meet in a hotly anticipated rematch at the Jeddah Superdome, Saudi Arabia, on Saturday evening.

Usyk is the early betting favourite and has been following the announcement of this bout, but all the pressure is on his opponent. Having lost two of his last four, surrendering the titles on both occasions, AJ knows another defeat would send him spiralling down the rankings.

Usyk impressed last summer

After dominating the cruiserweight division before moving up to the sport's top category and warming up with wins over Chazz Witherspoon and Derek Chisora, Usyk was ready to challenge for the world championship. Supporters believed he was too mobile and technically savvy for Joshua, while critics said he'd be too light to trouble his naturally bigger and stronger opponent.

Fans of Oleksandr knew what they were talking about with Usyk putting on a boxing masterclass to seal an impressive points victory, taking the belts back to Ukraine. The scorecards awarded him the victory by margins of five, four, and two rounds with no one in attendance, including those loyal to Team Joshua having any complaints.

Will he repeat the feat and set up a money-spinning unification bout with Tyson Fury in 2023? Betfair Exchange users certainly believe so with a 20th career win from as many starts trading at 1.618/13. Those willing to take more risk in pursuit of higher odds can back a third points win on the bounce at 3.211/5 while the KO/TKO is 3.052/1.

Joshua knows the pressure is on

This isn't an all-or-nothing, win-or-bust scenario for Joshua in Saudi Arabia, but he isn't a million miles away from it. There is no shame in losing to a fighter of Usyk's calibre, and he could do so again and still be a respected figure in the division, but his chances of becoming a heavyweight champion for the third time in just six years look slim.

The Englishman hasn't been the most reliable or consistent champion; knocked out by Andy Ruiz Jr in New York before winning the belts back in Saudi Arabia. But this isn't the same scenario. AJ couldn't afford to lose again to an overweight, unfit, limited opponent. He knew if he boxed and moved, staying out of trouble and building up a points lead, he'd beat Ruiz. Try to out-box Usyk; we already know he has no chance of beating the champ for speed and skill.

Fancy AJ to get back to winning ways and move closer to the fight we all want to see, Joshua v Fury? He's certainly not friendless in the betting, and you'll get odds of 2.8415/8 on Joshua moving his record to 24-2-0. A 23rd career stoppage is 3.711/4 with a points win deemed less likely at 9.08/1.

Take repeat over revenge

It wouldn't be difficult to make a strong case for Joshua winning this rematch and moving the head-to-head scores to one win each. I'd probably end up convincing myself he can do it, but we're sticking with Oleksandr. He boxed a punch-perfect fight last summer and will do the same again.

For Joshua to win, he must perform twice as good as we've seen from him in the past, while Usyk suffers the first off night of his career. Yes, he has the strength and power to score a show-reel style KO, but let's keep it simple and go with the more gifted man.

Remember, a good boxer beats a good fighter.

The Betfair Boost on Usyk v Joshua:

Oleksandr Usyk to win by KO/TKO, boosted (Price 2/1) - Bet Here.

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