Oleksandr Usyk, pictured in action (R) defeating Chazz Witherspoon, will be looking to beat Anthony Joshua once again. Credit © Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports
|Usyk vs Joshua 2||Odds and preview|
|When||Jeddah Superdome, Saudi Arabia|
|Where||Saturday, August 20th, 5pm ET|
|TV||DAZN, Sky Box Office|
A new heavyweight lineage, together with three of the four major world heavyweight titles and the Ring Magazine belt, are on the line as unified champion Oleksandr Usyk defends his belts against Anthony Joshua in this much-anticipated rematch.
Usyk (19-0, 13 KOs), the previous undisputed king down at cruiserweight, ripped up the established order last September by traveling to London, England to wrest the belts from the popular Brit as around a two-to-one underdog. This time, both men travel to the less familiar surroundings of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, for a highly-lucrative event that has taken on further significance with the latest retirement of Tyson Fury, who has made clear his intention to vacate both his Ring and WBC straps.
While the first fight was an upset in betting terms, few inside the industry were truly surprised by the result. Usyk’s quality and elite technical prowess were already recognized by most, but the ease in which the southpaw negated the considerable size advantage of Joshua should have converted even the last few remaining doubters. For Joshua (24-2, 22 KOs), it was another sizable setback and, though his second career defeat was less violent than the seven-round shellacking dished out to him by Andy Ruiz in the summer of 2019, the comprehensive fashion in which he was outpointed leaves ‘AJ’ at a crossroads.
Usyk will be hoping he is the one celebrating yet again. Pic: Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports
Joshua, of course, avenged that Ruiz loss just six months later, taking the immediate rematch and comfortably outboxing the out-of-shape champion in a marked - and highly effective - change of approach from their initial encounter. As with the Ruiz sequel, it’s Usyk who this time must meet his contractual obligations by running things back at the earliest opportunity.
Like Ruiz, Usyk must also travel to the Middle East to do so. While the arena will be a far cry from the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and the 66,000-strong crowd that paid to see the first fight, it will represent a return to a happy hunting ground for Joshua ahead of a match-up in which he will need every possible edge.
Usyk’s return to national service in his native Ukraine to defend against the Russian invasion cast doubts over whether this bout would ever happen, and how the war may have affected his focus or readiness as a human being, let alone a prizefighter, adds one more unknown to a match-up already loaded with intangibles and question marks.
Another is the intriguing addition of trainer Robert Garcia to the corner of Joshua — a move that would, it seem, mark a shift away from the safety-first approach adopted by the Londoner both in the Ruiz rematch and in the over-engineered plan to try to outwit the Ukrainian last time out.
Usyk favoritism in the rematch was inevitable, given how wide the chasm was between the two men in their first meeting, but perhaps the main question is whether the books favor him enough here. At a general -200, the eccentric titleholder has been handed around a 67% implied probability, with a range of prices from -175 (64%) at the more generous end of the industry, to -225 (69%) at the leanest — but, in truth, had the layers hovered around the -300 mark it would been justified, such was the clinic we witnessed in the first contest. Those prices on Usyk have remained fairly static since the fight was first announced earlier in the year, and though the actual date of the event has been rescheduled and delayed, the market has seen no significant move on either man so far.
Those toying with a wager on Joshua have quotes in the range of +160 (39%) to +175 (36%) to consider, with the Brit even touching +150 with some firms, and that looks remarkably tight given the nature of his last defeat. That’s not to write off Joshua completely, of course — despite some apparent bulking-up from Usyk over the past year, the Watford man remains by far the larger man of the two, some three inches taller and likely the best part of 20lb heavier. While it’s unlikely that Usyk’s camp would be so short-sighted as to reduce their man’s capabilities by adding unnecessary muscle, what’s more feasible is that Joshua’s size and physical attributes are better suited to a more aggressive strategy much in line with Garcia’s signature style.
Usyk will be looking to use his superior skills to outwit Joshua again © Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports
Although the first fight might be an unreliable template given the out-of-the-ring changes for both men since, it was clear that Usyk had Joshua hurt in the closing stages, and could well have stopped him had there been just another 20 seconds or so extra in the final round. Although the eventual result was a unanimous decision for the Ukrainian, it’s for this reason that the oddsmakers are split on how he might get it done this time. Both a Usyk decision - a repeat of last September - and a Usyk stoppage are available at +200 (33%) and should he manage to bully Joshua up close, as he did as a smaller man, a slightly heavier Usyk would be well placed to get the job done inside the distance here. It’s worth noting, however, that in his three heavyweight bouts since moving up from the 200lb cruiserweight limit, the champion has notched only one KO/TKO win, coming against the overmatched Chazz Witherspoon in late 2019.
For Joshua, his best chance of success looks to be a stoppage of his own. Having tried unsuccessfully to box Usyk from the outside and at mid-range previously, it would surely be a fool’s errand to try the same again, and the recruitment of the well-respected Garcia, gives every indication that he will not. As such, a Joshua decision at +800 (11% implied probability) is the rank outsider of the main methods for either man, with a 23rd career knockout for the Brit priced at +275, or a 27% chance. The draw is out at +2000.
Barring a major Joshua rebuild, it is hard to see much appeal in the underdog at +160, but of more interest is an angle that gets a win for both men on side. A stoppage for either man could be argued as their most likely route to victory, and so the -133 that we don’t hear the final bell is a cautiously optimistic play.
Oleksandr Usyk vs Anthony Joshua 2 free betting pick and prediction:
Fight not to go the distance (-175)
|Oleksandr Usyk||Tale of the tape||Anthony Joshua|
|19-0, 13KOs||Record||24-2, 22KOs|
Where is the Oleksandr Usyk vs Anthony Joshua fight taking place?
The rematch between Anthony Joshua and Oleksandr Usyk will take place on Saturday, August 20, in the Jeddah Superdome, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The fighters are expected to walk to the ring at around 6pm ET.
Where can I watch Oleksandr Usyk vs Anthony Joshua 2?
Usyk vs Joshua 2 will be shown live on DAZN in the US. Anthony Joshua signed a lifetime deal with the platform earlier this year, but this fight was not included in his new contract. That led to Sky Sports Box Office gaining exclusive rights for the bout in the UK and Ireland.
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