What's going on?
Anthony Joshua is putting it all on the line – again.
As the unified world heavyweight champion, every fight comes with higher stakes. This Sunday, Joshua faces mandatory challenger Oleksandr Usyk at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, with the winner leaving the venue with the IBF, IBO, WBO and WBA belts in their grasp.
It's nothing new for 31-year-old Joshua. This will be his eighth bout with multiple world titles on the line.
For Usyk, it's familiar territory as well. The former undisputed cruiserweight champion of the world vacated his throne to move up in weight class to heavyweight. The 34-year-old Ukrainian has had just two bouts in the division – stopping Chazz Witherspoon in the seventh round in October 2019 before taking a unanimous decision win over Derek Chisora a year later which was enough to see him become the mandatory challenger for the WBO belt.
Two Olympic Games gold medallists, a high-quality display of boxing is expected when the two take to the ring on Sunday.
"It's a great opportunity. If I weren't fighting him, it wouldn't mean so much," Joshua said of the match-up. "To fight good fighters, it only makes me want to raise my game; it's probably the same for him as well – and it's just a great opportunity for boxing. People want to see these fights."
For Joshua, the bout against Usyk was the next best available fight from what he was hoping to book – an undisputed challenge against WBC and The Ring heavyweight champion Tyson Fury. It looked as though a deal was near being struck to book the fight, however an arbitration ruling forced Fury to take a trilogy fight with former WBC champion Deontay Wilder, which will go down later this year.
"Obviously we were trying to get the undisputed fight before but that fell through. We could've gone a different route – like Pacquiao fought Ugas recently – when you want to challenge yourself, you always want the next best thing. Usyk was the next best thing in line. My mandatory challenger. People know he's good, people have watched him. He's kind of like an unknown quantity in parts of the world but we're going to bring it all to the forefront for the biggest prize in sports which is the heavyweight championship of the world."
A change in opponent meant a change in tactics for Joshua. Rather than fighting the tall Fury who fights in the southpaw stance, he quickly had to switch his approach to deal with a shorter southpaw fighter in Usyk.
"Usyk is a lot shorter, and a completely different stance, so I have to change so much in the preparation for the Usyk fight. So, finding the right sparring partners, people that we can fly in from all over the world to help us prepare for this fight, we had to kind of change at a snap. That was quite difficult, but I have a great management team who helped me get this in place, so that was difficult actually because we had big guys from Germany, we had some guys coming in from Russia, so when the fight fell through, I had to change quick and start calling around southpaw fighters. We got there in the end.
"The work that I've done in the ring; I haven't done much pad work, I've done a lot of heavy bag work, a lot of sparring, which has helped me be conditioned for the fight because it's going to be a fight of conditioning. We all know he's a good 12-round fighter, at cruiserweight that is, and I'm a knockout puncher as well, so I'm going to look for the knockout but also box my way to 12 rounds if it needs to go 12 rounds."
How do I watch it?
The card is being broadcast via DAZN. To watch it, you'll need to download their app and pay a $3 subscription. That's it - $3 for a world heavyweight title fight. You'll then be able to watch it on your phone/computer/cast it to your TV... whatever your preferred viewing method is.
Are there any other fights of note on the card?
Reigning WBO cruiserweight champion Lawrence Okolie (16-0) will put his belt on the line against Dilan Prašović (15-0), while IBF No 6 and WBO No 8 ranked light heavyweight Callum Smith (27-1) takes on Lenin Castillo (20-3-1).
Earlier in the event, Campbell Hatton (3-0) - son of former light-welterweight and welterweight world champion Ricky Hatton - looks to continue the undefeated start to his career against Sonni Martinez (2-4).
When is it all happening?
The card is set the get underway at 6am on Sunday, with the fighters expected to make their walks for the main event at approximately 10.10am.
Tale of the tape: Joshua | Usyk
Record: 24-1 | 18-0
Height: 198cm | 191cm
Reach: 208cm | 198cm
Stance: Orthodox | Southpaw
Wins via stoppage: 22 | 13
TAB odds: $1.33 | $3.10