As Anthony Joshua prepares for his long-awaited rematch with Oleksandr Usyk, many will be watching on with great interest to see how he contends with the enormous pressure he is facing in this career-defining match-up. After losing convincingly in their first bout at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in September of last year, Joshua will need a complete overhaul of his gameplan if he is to cause an upset in the boxing bets in Saudi Arabia on August 20th.
He is certainly capable of doing so, having proven in the past on many occasions that he belongs among the elite group of heavyweights in the world today. While the 32-year-old’s career is filled with impressive wins over strong and durable opponents, there are three performances which stand out from the rest.
Joshua v Klitschko – 2017
In what is arguably his most prominent win to date, Joshua’s triumph over the Hall of Fame Ukrainian was an incredible display of skill, will and heart. Although his opponent was 41, the gulf in experience was always going to prove tough to overcome. Couple that with the fact that Klitschko was in the best shape he had been in for a number of years – and it set up the real potential for a major upset.
Once the bell rang to signal the start of the fight, Joshua controlled proceedings early, doubling up his jab and landing the right hand over the top with regularity. The Brit’s success in the opening stanza culminated in a phenomenal fifth round, with him landing a devastating left hook in the first five seconds that visibly hurt Klitschko. He followed it up with a barrage of punches and dropped his opponent with 2:30 still remaining in the round, leaving many fans and pundits believing that the end of the contest was near.
However, in what was a round of the year contender, Klitschko displayed every ounce of his poise and experience to turn the fight on its head and fight fire with fire. He attacked a tiring Joshua, and finished the fifth round the stronger of the two. When the Ukrainian knocked Joshua down in the sixth round, it appeared as though the step up in class was becoming too great a task for the Watford native. However, to his credit, Joshua overcame adversity and fought back to stop Klitschko in the eleventh round – signalling the birth of a worldwide sporting superstar.
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Joshua v Ruiz Jr – 2019
After a humiliating defeat in his American debut at the hands of relative unknown Andy Ruiz Jr., Joshua’s aura of invincibility had well and truly gone. As a result of the loss, insults such as quitter, flat-track bully and having a glass jaw were thrown his way. That’s a lot to deal with for a young man in such an unforgiving sport, and the only way he was ever going to shake those labels was with a victory in an immediate rematch against the Mexican.
That is exactly what he did in December of 2019, taking on Ruiz Jr. at Diriyah Arena in Saudi Arabia. Joshua’s approach in the second fight was vastly different to the one he employed in their first match-up. He chose to stay behind the jab throughout most of the fight and only engaged when he felt he needed to earn his opponent’s respect. It was a foolproof plan, as he cruised to a unanimous decision victory and became a two-time world heavyweight champion. His victory silenced a lot of his critics, as although he didn’t win in true brutal Joshua fashion, it spoke volumes about his willingness to pursue dangerous legacy-defining fights irrespective of the risks involved.
Joshua v Parker – 2018
Taking place at the famous Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Joshua’s unification bout against New Zealand’s Joseph Parker was yet another defining moment in the Brit’s already storied career. Known for his thudding power and his brutal ability to finish his opponents, Joshua couldn’t afford to solely rely on that when he faced Parker.
Just like many Polynesian boxers to have graced the squared circle before him, Parker’s granite chin was always going to make it difficult for him to be knocked out. Therefore, Joshua had to change tact, and he did so incredibly effectively. It was the first time in his career that we had seen him employ such a technical gameplan. His boxing IQ, judging of distance and defensive awareness was on full display – and by doing so, he let the boxing world know that there’s much more to his game than just pure power.
For those who are keeping a watchful eye over the Joshua v Usyk 2 betting odds – if the Brit can replicate some of the form he showed in the three aforementioned fights – his 13/8 odds could prove to be a value bet.
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