As we get closer to the fight, it feels like there are more doubts surfacing about Joshua’s hopes this evening. Is he going to silence the doubters … ?
Vitali Klitschko has a chat with Sky Sports: “It’s a very difficult fight for Oleksandr … he never fought someone with the skills of Joshua … but let’s see. He did everything at cruiserweight, now it’s a chance to be great at heavyweight class … he has an unusual style, and for Joshua, it’s a difficult task tonight.”
“Evening Luke. I think this is a tough fight for Joshua – and believe that he has to knock his man out,” emails David Horn. “I was a little surprised at how light he came in – his main advantage (apart from experience in the division) is his size & his power. Coming in light diminishes that and suggested (to me) that he was going to try and be more nimble, and possibly outbox his opponent. That seems like a risky strategy. He’s going to need to knock this fella out, and playing to his size and strength is a better route to that in my view. Still … shaping up to be a good one, and am very much looking forward to it. Enjoy your evening!”
Thanks David. It is interesting about Joshua’s lower weight, which may suggest he’s expecting to be taken deep into the fight and wants to have a bit more endurance. It will be interesting to see if he looks to finish this fight nice and early or is willing to be more patient.
The atmosphere is noticeably building inside the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, which is mostly lit in cool blue, with multiple white spotlights roaming around the venue.
The main event was slated to be starting around 10.30pm, in just under an hour … how long are they going to make us wait?
Donald McRae reported from the pre-fight press conference on Thursday. Will be Usyk be dancing at the end?
“Usyk said his suit was “inspired by the Joker – but he is not a positive hero. I am a positive hero. My look, the hair, moustache, earring is all inspired by my ancestors who were 17th-century Cossack warriors. I used to do the Cossack dance after some of my amateur wins, I might do it again if I win on Saturday. I am a very unpredictable guy. I have this look for this fight because it is coming from my heart.”
Mo Farah has a chat with Sky Sports: “I’ve seen it [boxing] on telly, I’ve never been ringside, and it’s very exciting … being close to the fighters is different to seeing it on telly.
“I’ve got massive respect for AJ, he’s done amazing throughout his career, but now, you know, it’s what he’s put in over the years towards this … tonight is going to be massive.
“AJ all the way … as an athlete you’ve got to have that vision and focus … I reckon AJ, fifth round, knockout.”
Anthony Joshua: “People are out to see knockouts … I want to deliver for these people … We want to go to there and put on a clinical boxing match.”
Idris Elba speaks to Sky Sports: “I’ve never been to this stadium before, and I have to say, it’s beautiful … I’m an Arsenal fan but this is beautiful … it’s not even full, and it’s buzzing.
“I’m not worried. I reckon it’s going to be a tough fight. It won’t be an easy one for him [Joshua] but I reckon he’ll have it in the sixth … I’m very confident AJ’s got this one, but it won’t be easy … I’m fortunate to have got to know him a little bit, he’s a mate, and I’m so proud of him, he’s like a shining example to our country. I’m so proud of him and I want him to win.
“I saw some of the big, great heavyweight fights … this does feel reminiscent of the good old days … [Joshua v Fury] it has to happen .. we’ve got to see it.”
Okolie speaks to Sky Sports: “I’m extremely happy to get a win in front of all these amazing people, it’s the first time I’ve fought with a crowd in two years … I grew into the fight … it’s difficult against guys like that, who come a little bit cagey … I need the big names to get the best from myself. [My improvement] is down to my hard work and [smiles] Shane’s [McGuigan] training has been good.”
Does he want to unify the belts? “One hundred per cent … the better the person is in front of me, the better my performance. This guy was trying to spoil, other guys will be trying to win.”
McGuigan, Barry’s son, adds: “Breidis Prescott is the best in the division and we want a fight against him.”
Prasovic is floored by a body shot in the third and is counted out. That looked something of a mismatch but it was a very impressive performance by Okolie and he had way too much for the Montenegrin.
“Prasovic was completely out of his depth, he shouldn’t have been in a ring with Okolie … and it doesn’t do Okolie any favours either,” says the co-commentator.
Okolie safely ticks off the first defence of his WBO cruiserweight title. “The Sauce” remains undefeated, 17-0, with 14 wins coming by knockout. Prasovic lasted nearly two minutes in the third, but in truth he never recovered from the knock down in the second.
After a first round when Okolie mostly kept his distance and worked his jab, he catches Prasovic with a huge right hand, and the challenger goes down to the canvas and takes a count. There is soon another big right hand from Okolie, and Prasovic looks stunned by his opponent’s power … but he is saved by the bell and now comes out again for the third round.
Donald McRae spoke to Anthony Joshua this week, when the defending champion reminisced about his days nightclubbing in north London, close to where he will fight this evening:
Next up: Lawrence Okolie will defend his WBO cruiserweight title against Dilan Prasovic of Montenegro.
Okolie – who hails from Hackney in east London and is nicknamed ‘The Sauce’ – knocked out Krzysztof Glowacki of Poland in March to win the title.
After that, it’s the main event, Joshua v Usyk. It’s expected to begin at around 10.30pm UK time although exactly what time the fight will start is anyone’s guess.
Campbell Hatton, Ricky’s son, has just taken a points decision in a six-round super featherweight fight against Izan Dura, and appeared very fortunate to get the nod from the judges.
Earlier on, Lenin Castillo suffered a horrible knockout by Callum Smith at light heavyweight. Eddie Hearn, the promoter, tweeted that Castillo is ‘responsive and on his way to hospital’.
Donald McRae reports that Joshua weighed in for tonight’s fight at 240lb – the second lightest he’s been since 2014. Usyk registered 221lb on the scales for one of the most eagerly-awaited bouts in years:
Could this prove to be one of the most demanding fights of Anthony Joshua’s career? Many people seem to think so, even if the odds appear to significantly favour the British fighter, with the Ukrainian Oleksandr Usyk having stepped up to the heavyweight division from his natural home at cruiserweight.
There has certainly been no shortage of pre-fight hype, and the nearly 70,000 fans who will pack into Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and pay-per-view watchers around the world are thus hoping for plenty of bang for their buck. Usyk is highly regarded to say the least – he unified the cruiserweight champion with four different belts before vacating his titles to move up to heavyweight. He stopped Tony Bellew at cruiserweight in 2018 before outlasting and out-pointing heavyweight Derek Chisora at Wembley in October last year. “I’m coming for you, Anthony,” Usyk declared after beating Chisora, a success which saw him become the mandatory WBO challenger for Joshua’s title. And here he is.
As the bigger man and the more accomplished fighter at heavyweight, Joshua will expect to prevail, but if the 34-year-old southpaw Usyk can stay in the contest and take it deep into the later rounds, the smart money may well be on a points decision in favour of this dangerous challenger. Joshua may be looking for the finisher nice and early, so it could well be spectacular right from the start. Pre-fight reading and more coming right up.