With the hopes and expectations of a nation on his shoulders, Ukrainian Oleksandr Usyk retained his WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight championship belts in an enthralling rematch with Anthony Joshua in Saudi Arabia earlier this month.
After upsetting the applecart in their first bout at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium last September, fans and pundits alike were eager to see if Usyk could justify his online betting odds and replicate the sublime performance he put forth when they met the first time around. He delivered in spades, overcoming Joshua’s early pressure and ninth round tirade to earn a split-decision victory.
While the winners of the first bout traditionally head into the rematch with the upper hand psychologically, many thought Usyk’s tough and emotional training camp could potentially be the catalyst for his downfall. With his home country at war and having recently returned from the frontline himself, the external pressures the 35-year-old was dealing with in the build-up to the fight is difficult to fathom. However, in true Usyk fashion, he rose to the weight of the occasion and arguably exceeded his first showing.
Contrast that with Joshua, whose rapid rise up the professional ranks made him one of the most popular boxers in recent memory. His 6’6 frame, good looks and savvy public demeanor made him a marketer’s delight, so much so that he was being billed as the saviour of heavyweight boxing. It’s a considerable burden to accept, yet he has done it with considerable class and decorum.
That was until August 20th, when his conduct in the ring post-fight drew the ire of those watching on. After throwing two of Usyk’s belts out of the ring in disgust, the Watford-native proceeded with his bizarre behaviour when he took to the microphone. Rambling on incoherently as to why he lost and the reason behind his career’s pitfalls, his speech took the shine away from an otherwise valiant effort.
While some believe it was Joshua finally dropping his PR-friendly façade, others felt it was harsh to judge the actions of a man who was speaking immediately after going a tough 12 rounds. While the backlash is warranted, more people are now interested in where the 32-year-old goes from here.
Coming off back-to-back losses, the man affectionately known as “AJ” will need to win in emphatic fashion in his next outing if he is to re-establish himself as a world championship contender. The opponents that could catapult him back into contention would be either the Andy Ruiz Jr/Luis Ortiz winner, or Deontay Wilder if he was to defeat Robert Helenius on October 15th.
They’re all big names on the heavyweight scene, and with his next fight being the first of a multi-year deal on streaming platform DAZN – his promoter Eddie Hearn will be looking to ensure it’s against someone recognisable.
Usyk on the other hand has one of the biggest match-ups in recent memory on the horizon. After defeating Joshua for a second time, the Ukrainian made his intentions clear that he would like to fight WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury in an undisputed clash.
Although Fury has announced that he is retired, given the number of times he has contradicted himself, don’t be surprised if he accepts the challenge. If they were to fight, it will be a contest that undoubtedly determines the greatest heavyweight of our generation.
With Fury’s boxing ability and the discrepancy in height and weight between the two men, you would expect Fury to enter as the slight https://news.paddypower.com/ favourite – however – as Usyk has proven on so many occasions before – he is the last person you want to count out.
- As per the Public Gambling Act of 1867, all Indian states, except Goa, Daman and Sikkim, prohibit gambling
- Land-based casinos are legalized, with certain guidelines, in Goa and Daman, as per the Goa, Daman and Diu Public Gambling Act 1976
- Land-based casinos, Online gambling and E-gaming (games of chance) are legalized in Sikkim under the Sikkim Online Gaming (Regulation) Rules 2009
- Only some Indian states have legalized online/regular lotteries as per and subject to the conditions laid down by state laws. Kindly refer to the same here
- Horse racing and betting on horse racing, including online betting, is permitted only in a licensed premise in select states. Kindly refer to the 1996 Judgement by the Supreme Court Of India here and for more information
- This article does not endorse or express the views of Qrius and/or any of its staff.
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