Anthony Joshua v Oleksandr Usyk: Dom Ingle, Kid Galahad, Johnny Nelson, Dave Allen and more give their predictions
Anthony Joshua will put his heavyweight titles on the line against undefeated ‘mad genuis’ Oleksandr Usyk on Saturday night in what’s been billed ‘the division’s best fight for a long time’.
Joshua, aged 31, who trains at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield, holds the WBA, WBO, IBF and IBO belts while Ukranian Usyk, 34, is bidding two become a two-weight world champion, having previously dominated at cruiserweight level.
The pair both won gold medals at London 2012 – Usyk in the heavyweight division and AJ at super heavyweight – before embarking on glittering careers in the pro ranks.
Joshua has won 24 of his 25 professional bouts and avenged his only loss against Andy Ruiz in a rematch, while his latest challenger has won all 18 of his fights.
He unified the cruiserweight division before moving up a weight class and winning the WBO inter-continental heavyweight title last year when he beat Derek Chisora, who is now trained by Sheffield’s Dave Coldwell in Rotherham.
Unsurprisingly, AJ is the overwhelming favourite with the bookies, but Sheffield’s boxing fraternity is divided on the outcome.
Here what they told The Star.
Kid Galahad, IBF world champion:
"It's a 50/50 fight. Usyk has done everything Joshua has done. He's won a gold medal, he's unified the division, he's done everything. What's he not done?
"Usyk's got some of the best footwork in the business. He's not a huge puncher but Mohammed Ali wasn't a huge puncher and still knocked people out. The pressure he brings, it's mental. AJ is switched on, He knows it's not going to be an easy fight, but everyone else thinks it is.
"It's one of those fights where we just don't really know how it's going to go. I think it could be a close call and AJ on points but I wouldn't be surprised if it's an upset, that's how close this fight is going to be."
Johnny Nelson, longest-reigning cruiserweight world champion of all time and Sky Sports Boxing pundit
“I expect AJ to win but it will be a tough fight, a very tough fight.
"I’ll not gas anybody and say ‘it’s a walk in the park’. It’s not a walk in the park, it’s a very tough fight for AJ.”
Amer ‘Killer’ Khan former 13-0 light heavyweight turned Ingle Gym coach
"Usyk is a mad genuis. His boxing ability is second to none, this is the hardest fight AJ has had.
“I’m going to go with Usyk. He’s got the world against him, AJ has the height, reach, home advantage, all these things against him but I’m still thinking Usyk.
"He’s a bona fide world champion and he’s somewhere in his peak.”
Tommy Frank, Sheffield's newly crowned - and first ever - British flyweight champion
"I'm a massive fan of both. I really, like Usyk, I think he's a class fighter, he's very, very good technically and he's got a lot of charisma outside of the ring.
"Ultimately, I just think Joshua's going to be a little bit too big, too strong and too good for him. I think Joshua's got Usyk's number. He's too experienced and he's ticked a lot of boxes throughout his career.”
Dom Ingle, world champion boxing trainer
"It’s going to be a good fight. I think Usyk’s going to cause Joshua problems early on with his movement but I just think in the end Joshua’s just going to be too strong for him.
"He will close him down and catch him with something.
"I just don’t think he (Usyk) is strong enough, even with his boxing ability, fancy footwork and slick southpaw style [...] I don’t think he’s got enough to keep AJ off.”
Dennis Hobson, promoter
"Usyk can beat AJ, if he adjusts to the weight. David Haye made the adjustment, as did Evander Holyfield."
Dave Allen, heavyweight and Usyk’s former sparring partner
"I couldn’t pick a winner, I’m firmly on the fence.
"This is the best fight in the heavyweight division for a long time.”