Boxing’s heavyweight division is absolutely on fire this fall! Coming off the heels of a legendary bout between Oleksandr Usyk and Anthony Joshua, we now find ourselves amid fight week for the rubber match between Tyson Fury versus Deontay Wilder. While both high-profile fights are two of the most significant heavyweight matches that we could ask for, it is worth noting just how different these matchups are, and what elements each thrilling and extremely talented competitor brings into the ring.
On Saturday September 25th, from the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, Britain’s own Anthony Joshua made a grand entrance in front of 65,000 screaming fight fans to face off against the former Unified World Cruiserweight Champion Oleksandr Usyk. Since Usyk’s decision to relinquish his titles and make the move up in weight, the heavyweight division has been put on notice and with the absolute masterclass of punching technique and intelligent defense that he displayed versus Joshua, we see that notice was certainly justified. The southpaw Ukrainian competitor’s ability to utilize footwork and stellar head movement resulted in Joshua spending the majority of the evening getting counter punched and outpointed. Heavily behind on the judges’ scorecards, “AJ” began to realize there was going to be no way to outbox a fighter with this kind of speed and technique, which is why he decided to start hunting for the power shot. The hunt was on, but Usyk seemed to expect this and started to play a careful game, picking his shots very specifically. Usyk was able to, on more than one occasion, faint in order to draw out a reaction from Joshua, track him down with the jab, and unload an utter bomb of a left hand that sent Joshua stumbling back and manifested the thought in our minds that we may see this fight end with Joshua on the canvas. While that wound up to not be the result of this fantastic showing, we did see the 12th round conclude with Joshua moving backward until he was hung up on the ropes while Usyk walked him down and delivered several hard shots, making sure there would be no doubt in the judges’ minds who won the fight. Usyk earned the well-deserved unanimous decision victory and now holds the WBO, IBF, IBO, and WBA World Heavyweight Titles. This match marked Anthony Joshua’s second professional loss, the first of course coming by way of TKO from the hard-hitting Andy Ruiz, while Oleksandr Usyk remains undefeated with an impressive 19 wins. Joshua has been said to be one of the most well-rounded heavyweights to ever enter the ring, and surely this will not be the last we see from him, but on this particular night his well-rounded arsenal was no match for the crisp technique and speed of Usyk.
Hopping across the pond, this Saturday we are set to see another one of Britain’s biggest names enter the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas in front of a sold-out crowd, all on the edge of their seat to see one of the most highly anticipated rubber matches of all time, between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder. We all know the story of their previous two matches; Fury’s rise off the canvas in the 12th round of their first fight that resulted in a draw, the game plan change for the second fight which showed “The Gypsy King” pushing “The Bronze Bomber” onto his back foot for a large portion of the evening (ending with Wilder’s corner throwing in the towel to end the savage beating), Wilder’s multiple excuses for losing, the legalities surrounding mandatory rematches, and of course the smack talk! These are all intriguing aspects in this series of fights, but by far the most attracting thing about the Trilogy is what could lay ahead in what can only be described as the great unknown for the time being. Tyson Fury has been described by many as the most dynamic and agile heavyweight in boxing today and we have seen that on display on several occasions. If Fury is able to effectively execute his game plan there is no reason why he should not win this fight. Where the plan could go sideways for him comes in the form of what Teddy Atlas likes to call “The Great Eraser”. While Tyson Fury needs to be perfect for the entirety of the fight, Deontay Wilder just needs to be perfect for one punch because if Fury makes a single mistake, you better believe that Wilder will land that one perfect punch and erase all the rounds that he may have lost prior, only this time Tyson may not have the ability to rise from the canvas.
Not only are these epic heavyweight matchups great in their own right, and extremely entertaining, but they also line up some very interesting future matches between the winners and losers of each bout and hopefully we are not far off from seeing a fight that could potentially unify all heavyweight titles. It is a great time for the heavyweight division and the talent pool only seems to be getting deeper with competitors like Usyk moving up and proving that he can have success at heavyweight with career highlight wins like the one we witnessed in London versus Joshua.
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