Editor: Let’s not get in a fight about being the true City of Sport

The eyes of the boxing world will be on skills honed in Sheffield tonight.

Monday, 27th September 2021, 6:38 am
British heavyweight champion boxer Anthony Joshua gestures during his weigh-in at the O2 arena ahead of his bout with Ukraine's Oleksandr Usyk, in London on September 24, 2021. - Anthony Joshua could face his "toughest-ever fight" when he defends the WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight titles against Oleksandr Usyk in London on Saturday. (Photo by Ben STANSALL / AFP) (Photo by BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images)

We have not only created our very own champions over the decade, including our first ever British flyweight champion Tommy Frank last weekend, we are the proud home of GB Boxing and the best in the country come here to get better.

That is the case with Anthony Joshua, as many Sheffielders who have bumped into him in recent weeks will confirm.

The English Institute of Sport isn’t just a place where world champs improve, it is where our children get fit, Olympic stars of the future are spotted and aspirations are raised. That covers far more than boxing and delves into almost every sport imaginable.

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So tonight, there will be extra pride from the Steel City for AJ, even though his fight is down south. He has vowed to ‘deliver’ at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium after weighing in more than a stone heavier than Oleksandr Usyk on the eve of their world heavyweight title showdown.

There was an unusual amount of focus on the scales on Friday afternoon as, while there is no weight cap in boxing’s blue riband division, speculation has raged in recent weeks that Joshua has appeared leaner than usual.

But those verdicts proved unfounded as the WBA, IBF and WBO champion officially came in at 17st 1lb, only three-quarters of a pound lighter than his previous title defence against Kubrat Pulev last December.

Usyk, the former undisputed world cruiserweight champion, scaled a career-high 15st 8lbs – four pounds heavier than when he fought and beat Joshua’s compatriot Derek Chisora last October – at a public weigh-in at the O2 Arena.

Joshua told the assembled crowd afterwards: “What do we want on Saturday? We will deliver, we will deliver.”

AJ will have the edge in height and reach and is favourite with bookmakers, but Usyk’s movement and overall technical skillset from an awkward southpaw stance have led many seasoned observers to conclude this will be a close contest.

Sheffield could go 12 rounds with any city trying to claim it has produced better boxers and we must always stand ready to defend our proud history of sport.