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Boxing: What questions does AJ need to answer?

18 August 2022 12:37:40 EST
There will be some big questions asked of AJ on 20th August

Anthony Joshua is aiming to regain his IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight world titles when he rematches Oleksandr Usyk in Saudi Arabia.

Click here to view further Oleksandr Usyk vs Anthony Joshua II content.

AJ was soundly beaten by the Ukrainian at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium last year, and after starting the first contest as the red-hot favourtie, the Brit is now the 2.87 outsider to win back the belts.

Usyk is an elite-level fighter and he dominated the contest in London last year. Joshua was barely able to land a blow on the Ukrainian and the Watford man now has big questions to answer. Let's have a look at the hurdles that Joshua will need to clear.

Will Joshua get his tactics right?

Physically, Joshua is a beaming heavyweight. The Brit has the size and power to trouble anyone in the division. However, when it comes to boxing skill and intelligence AJ isn't on Usyk's level.

It was puzzling to see AJ attempt to outbox the Ukrainian in London last year, when his best chance was surely to try and impose his size and power on the Simferopol southpaw. By keeping the fight at distance, Joshua negated his strengths and played into the hands of the Cat.

AJ has moved to make a change in his training camp ahead of the second fight and the Brit has certainly been saying the right things in terms of his approach ahead of the rematch.

Joshua has to forget any ideas that he can outbox the undefeated, former undisputed cruiserweight champ and use his size and power to nullify the talents of the brilliant Ukrainian.

Will Joshua's punch resistance hold up?

Joshua is a good fighter. You don't become a unified heavyweight champion without any talent. However, AJ has shown a vulnerability to power in the past. The Brit has lost just two fights in his 26-bout career but that doesn't quite tell the whole story.

The Watford man has fought only a handful of top-level boxers in his career. Joshua was beaten by Usyk, knocked down by Wladimir Klitschko, dropped and stopped by Andy Ruiz and rocked by Alexander Povetkin and Dillian Whyte. Looking at those contests collectively, AJ's chin does start to look a little suspect.

It's worth remembering that Usyk came mighty close to stopping the 32-year-old in the first clash between the pair and the Cat looks to be coming in at his heaviest ever weight for the rematch.

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Is Joshua good enough to beat Usyk?

One of the most overlooked factors in both the first fight and the rematch is the brilliance of Usyk. It's almost been framed as though the only element that counts in this contest is how Joshua approaches the bout.

In truth, Usyk is a phenomenally skillful fighter and a genuine pound-for-pound contender. The Ukrainian is unbeaten, skillful, quick, technically brilliant and simply levels above AJ in terms of boxing ability.

It's the heavyweight division, and clearly there's always the chance of a big shot changing the course of the fight, but are we simply just looking at a contest when one of the competitors is vastly superior to the other.

Does Joshua have the desire?

After the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium contest, and in the build up to the rematch, Joshua has conceded that he and his camp got the tactics wrong in the first bout.

AJ has clearly communicated the issues that he faced against Usyk and indicated that he will need to make alterations if he is to be successful in the rematch.

You can't disagree with much of what the Brit has said regarding his approach to the Saudi Arabia contest, but the reason behind the first fight performance can be put under the spotlight.

Did the 32-year-old really believe that he could outbox one of the most gifted fighters of the modern generation or is there something else at play.

Was the lackluster and cautious performance born out of experiences from the past. In truth, Joshua hasn't looked the same explosive and imposing heavyweight since he was knocked out by Andy Ruiz in 2019.

AJ will be well aware of his defensive and punch resistance issues and you have to question if the Brit is prepared to take a blow in order to land a bigger shot on his opponent.

Is Joshua's desire still peaking enough that he is prepared to be knocked out in a bid to inflict the same fate on his opponent. One thing for certain, we will get the answers in the rematch on 20th August.

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