Fight Week: Anthony Joshua returns against Oleksandr Usyk

·3 min read

FIGHT WEEK

HEAVYWEIGHT TITLEHOLDER ANTHONY JOSHUA RETURNS TO THE RING AGAINST FORMER CRUISERWEIGHT CHAMP OLEKSANDR USYK ON SATURDAY IN LONDON.

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JA’RICO O’QUINN (14-0-1, 8 KOs) VS. SAUL SANCHEZ (16-1, 9 KOs)

  • When: Friday, Sept. 24

  • Where: Central Park Community Center, Broken Arrow, Okla.

  • TV/Stream: Showtime (ShoBox)

  • Division: Bantamweight

  • At stake: No titles

  • Pound-for-pound ranking: None

  • Odds: NA

  • Also on the card: Jayvon Garnett vs. Luis Reynaldo Nunez, featherweights; Alejandro Guerrero vs. Otar Eranosyan, junior lightweights.

  • Prediction: Joshua UD 12

Background: The three-fight “ShoBox: The New Generation” telecast will feature six young fighters with a combined record of 72-2-1. Ja’Rico O’Quinn, a 26-year-old from Detroit, faces Los Angeles-area native Saul Sanchez, 24, in the scheduled 10-round bantamweight main event. O’Quinn hasn’t fought since January of last year, meaning he will have been out of the ring for 20 months. Sanchez has fought four times during that period, the last time in March, when he stopped Frank Gonzalez in one round. Sanchez is ranked by two sanctioning bodies at junior bantamweight. Also, Jayvon Garnett (10-0, 5 KOs) of Cincinnati will take on Dominican Luis Reynaldo Nunez (11-0, 8 KOs) in a 10-round featherweight bout. Nunez is ranked No. 11 by the WBA at junior featherweight. And Otar Eranosyan (9-0, 6 KOs) of Akhalkalaki, Georgia will face Texan Alejandro Guerrero (12-1, 9 KOs) in a scheduled eight-round junior lightweight fight. Eranosyan is ranked No. 9 by the WBA at junior lightweight.

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ANTHONY JOSHUA (24-1, 22 KOs) VS. OLEKSANDR USYK (18-0, 13 KOs)

  • When: Saturday, Sept. 25

  • Where: Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London

  • TV/Stream: DAZN

  • Division: Heavyweight

  • At stake: Joshua’s IBF, WBA and WBO titles

  • Pound-for-pound ranking: None

  • Odds: Joshua 2½-1 favorite (average of multiple outlets)

  • Also on the card: Lawrence Okolie vs. Dilan Prasovic, cruiserweights (for Okolie’s WBO title); Callum Smith vs. Lenin Castillo, light heavyweights

  • Prediction: Joshua UD 12

  • Background: Joshua was expected to meet British rival and fellow titleholder Tyson Fury in his next fight, which arguably would be the biggest possible event in boxing. Instead, after Fury was forced to fight Deontay Wilder a third time, Joshua will defend against mandatory challenger Usyk. Joshua is two fights removed from the biggest nightmare of his career, a stunning seventh-round knockout loss against Andy Ruiz Jr. in June 2019 that cost him his belts and raised questions about his toughness. He responded by outpointing an ill-prepared Ruiz six months to regain his titles and right his ship. He then blew out Kubrat Pulev in nine rounds this past December, his most-recent fight. Usyk is trying to follow in the footsteps of Evander Holyfield and David Haye, cruiserweight titleholders who went on to become heavyweight champion. The 2012 Olympic gold medalist from Ukraine has fought twice as a heavyweight, stopping Chazz Witherspoon in seven rounds in October 2019 and defeating Derek Chisora by a decision in a competitive fight a year later. He has the ability to compete with Joshua but a size disadvantage might be an issue, although his handlers insist he has grown into the division. Joshua is 6-foot-6, 240-plus pounds; Usyk is 6-3 and last fought at 217¼. The winner on Saturday could face the winner of the Oct. 9 Fury-Wilder fight.

Also fighting this weekend: Kenshiro Teraji (18-0, 10 KOs) will defend his WBC junior flyweight title against Masamichi Yabuki (12-3, 11 KOs) on Wednesday in Kyoto, Japan (no TV in U.S.).

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