Joshua Tips Usyk to End Fury’s Unbeaten Streak – Destroying His Own Heavyweight Ambitions
In many ways, if Oleksandr Usyk were to defeat Tyson Fury on February 17, it would be a disaster for Anthony Joshua.
Assuming AJ can get past Francis Ngannou in their battle of the big punchers in March, it would set the two Brits on a warpath to finally meet in the ring after years of contractual shenanigans – assuming Fury prevails, that is.
And that’s something that Joshua isn’t hanging his hat on… despite the fact that a defeat for the Gypsy King would cost him a multi-million dollar payday.
The online betting sites aren’t quite as pessimistic as Joshua, with Fury installed as the -138 favorite and Usyk a narrow +110 underdog. A betting calculator confirms that a $10 wager on the Gypsy King would yield a return of $17.27 – that alone showcases how well thought of Fury is with the odds-makers.
Even so, he’ll need to improve upon his labored victory over Francis Ngannou last time out – the former MMA star made life very uncomfortable for Fury on his boxing debut, and even scored a knockdown of the WBC heavyweight champion in the third round.
Fury was noticeably out of shape for that October date, with sparring partner Martin Bakole also claiming that he hadn’t trained as hard as normal, with his focus perhaps instead on the undisputed clash with Usyk instead.
Martin Bakole on sparring Tyson Fury in the build-up to Fury’s fight with Francis Ngannou 🗣
Thoughts? 👀#TysonFury | #FrancisNgannou | #FuryUsyk pic.twitter.com/Xj4xw13kJ0
— IFL TV (@IFLTV) January 9, 2024
Joshua has twice been schooled by the Ukrainian, losing their first bout by a unanimous decision and their second by a split verdict – albeit with many onlookers suggesting the Brit was aided by some rather generous scoring.
And having experienced Usyk’s slippery skills up close and personal, AJ believes the underdog has what it takes to end Fury’s lengthy reign as the king of the heavyweights. “After being in the ring with him and studying him, still studying him now, I think he’s the one to edge it. Probably because of his experiences, his ring general-ship, and ring craft,” Joshua said.
Longer term, Joshua will be hoping Fury wins so that they can finally get it on later in the summer – a trilogy bout with Usyk does not whet the appetite.
But he must first come through unscathed against Ngannou, whose performance against the Gypsy King was so good that it has even earned him a number ten ranking from the WBC.
AJ is unlikely to make the same mistakes as Fury did against the former UFC heavyweight champion, who went into the scrap out-of-shape and paid the penalty for exchanging toe-to-toe with the Cameroon powerhouse.
Last Saturday I was a lion fighting a pack of hyenas – Tyson Fury, the referee for allowing an illegal elbow, and the judges for their score cards. #FuryNgannou
— Francis Ngannou (@francis_ngannou) November 1, 2023
The consensus is that if Joshua keeps the fight long and uses his superior technical ability, he will have enough to see off Ngannou and aim for a late knockout victory – the kind that would elevate him back into the world title picture.
The legendary Teddy Atlas has tipped Joshua to win the fight, while the sportsbooks also make the 34-year-old wide-margin favorite in their odds.
But Ngannou is not short of confidence, and he believes that it’s ‘most likely’ knock Joshua out and send shockwaves through the heavyweight division once more.
Only time will tell, of course, but by March 8 we’ll know exactly how the heavyweight scene will shape up during the rest of 2024.