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Early Anthony Joshua vs. Oleksandr Usyk Odds and Opinion

| January 19, 2020 8:03 am PDT
Early Anthony Joshua vs. Oleksandr Usyk Odds and Opinion

If you cannot wait to find out the betting odds for Anthony Joshua vs. Oleksandr Usyk, then today’s your lucky day.

Odds have been released for a mouth-watering heavyweight clash between Joshua vs. Usyk, and I bet you can tell who is the early favorite.

As for the fight? Well, the WBO has ordered Joshua to take on the unbeaten, former unified cruiserweight champion before June, meaning that if Joshua wants to hang onto that title, he needs to sign on the dotted line.

The Brit, who is coming off a unanimous decision victory over Andy Ruiz Jr. in December, must oblige or vacate. And given that he is less than one year off his infamous loss to Ruiz in their first fight, that would not go down well.

As the WBO rules go, champions are mandatory challengers by default once they move up in weight. So, Usyk has his shot. Providing Joshua obliges, of course.

So, today, I’m going to take a look at this fight, the odds, and everything else that will matter when Anthony Joshua and Oleksandr Usyk step into the ring this year.

Let’s start by breaking down the early Joshua vs. Usyk odds.

Latest Joshua vs. Usyk Odds

Anthony Joshua to Win -200
Usyk to Win +160

So Anthony Joshua is the favorite over Oleksandr Usyk. Is there any betting value in those odds? Let’s get into my analysis of Joshua vs. Usyk to find out.

Why Is Joshua the Favorite to Beat Usyk?

Joshua comes into this fight as the -200 favorite to beat Usyk.

Now, to some fans, those odds will make no sense. So, allow me to explain why Joshua deserves to enter the ring with the money behind him.

For one, he is a genuine heavyweight. This is his natural weight. Usyk, on the other hand, is a cruiserweight. 

Size-wise, Joshua stands at 6’6″ with an 82″ reach, while Usyk is at a disadvantage at 6’3″ with a 78″ reach. Now, as you know, size does not necessarily win fights, but it is worth pointing out that Usyk will be taking on the biggest opponent of his career.

Despite his perceived shortcomings at heavyweight, Joshua has a record of 23-1, with 21 KOs. Despite Wladimir Klitschko being well over the hill at the time of their fight, he still has his name on his resume.

Joshua also has wins over Andy Ruiz, Joseph Parker, and Dillian Whyte. Sure, these are hardly the greatest heavyweights that have ever graced the division, but they are all considered top guys in this era.

But, let’s be certain, this era is far from great. Sure, we have Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury in the mix with Joshua, but none of these guys would have held a title at a time when the likes of Evander Holyfield, Lennox Lewis, and the Klitschko brothers were in their primes. In other words, the last solid era of the heavyweights. 

Joshua is a unified heavyweight champion, regardless of whether you like him or not. Other than the loss to Ruiz, he has beaten everyone he has ever faced in the paid ranks.

Usyk, on the other hand, has beaten Chazz Witherspoon at this weight.

Was Joshua Exposed Against Ruiz?

When Jermell “Big Baby” Miller was pulled from his May 2019 bout with Anthony Joshua, Andy Ruiz stepped in.

And we all know what happened on the night of the fight.

It was interesting to hear the various post-fight theories surrounding Joshua’s loss. While his fans scrambled for excuses as to why their hero was knocked around like an old soccer ball, those on the other side of the spectrum quickly developed acute cases of “I told you so-itis.”

Ruiz was a 25-1 shot to beat Joshua. He was clearly overweight and out of shape. More than that, he was a figure of ridicule for how small and slack he looked standing against the Adonis that is Joshua.

But he was the better fighter on the night. 

This wasn’t a Corrie Sanders vs. Wladimir Klitschko situation. Ruiz didn’t land a world of a punch and end the fight. It wasn’t even a Buster Douglas-esque fight, as Joshua was fit, ready, and far from neglectful of his training commitments.

When you consider that Joshua was being promoted/advertised as the next Muhammad Ali before that fight — yes, I wish I was joking about that, but I am not — it was always going to look bad.

Factor in what many boxing fans saw as a reluctance to fight Deontay Wilder or Tyson Fury, and Joshua came out of it looking pretty bad.

While watching the fight, I remember thinking that Ruiz exposed Joshua’s inability to deal with pressure. Ruiz might have looked overweight and sloppy, but his hand speed and movement were anything but. 

The Brit wasn’t expecting Ruiz to get up from being dropped and go after him like that. Having come into the fight looking as though he was heading to a modeling shoot rather than a title fight, this just compounded the misery for his fans.

Joshua was exposed in that first Ruiz fight. But what did he do next? Well, he laid off the weights, trained his balls off, and worked on the right strategy. He stayed out of range and used a very nice jab to have his way with the Mexican-American the second time around, and he won the fight with ease.

Anyone who thought Joshua would be knocked out in the same fashion saw that, yes, he might not be the greatest boxer that ever lived, but he was mentally strong enough to recover. And smart enough to fight the right way.

Could Usyk Become a Great Heavyweight?

Absolutely.

But he has a lot of work to do before we can say, without any shadow of a doubt, that he belongs in the upper echelons of heavyweight boxers.

So far, Usyk has one heavyweight bout under his belt, and that was a 7th-round win over Chazz Witherspoon. Not exactly a major opponent, and he didn’t set the world on fire with that performance.

Usyk was initially slated to fight former kickboxing superstar Tyrone Spong, but just like Miller against Joshua, Spong was pulled up for using banned substances. 

So, for Usyk to establish himself among the elite — as many boxing fans think he will eventually do — he will need to up his class of opponent. However, jumping from Spong to Joshua in the course of two fights wouldn’t be the best battle plan.

Well, that’s my opinion, for what it’s worth.

It is interesting that both Joshua and Usyk have the same promoter in Eddie Hearn. The Brit would certainly be hoping to capitalize on the success of both of his guys, but would he be willing to feed Usyk to Joshua in order to further the latter’s success?

Well, for one, the idea of Usyk being vulnerable is a funny one. Regardless of his experience at heavyweight, there is a big chance that he could beat Joshua if and when that fight goes down.

If Hearn was Machiavellian enough to see more profit in Joshua beating Usyk on the basis of the latter being less experienced, he will still be taking a huge gamble.

If Usyk beats Joshua, the British idol can kiss his career as he knows it goodbye. The obsession with maintaining unbeaten records these days has ruined boxing, and I personally think it’s a load of bullcrap, but losing two fights in the matter of twelve months would be very worrying for the Watford native.

On the other hand, Usyk would be elevated to global superstar status if he could get the win over Joshua. 

Then, if he could beat the winner of Wilder vs. Fury 2, you’re looking at a guy that is in full control of the heavyweight division.

Is Usyk Ready for Joshua?

That’s a very good question, and one that I have thought long and hard about.

On one hand, Joshua’s size is something that must come into the discussion. His power, too. These are the major worries of those who believe that Usyk should acclimate himself into the heavyweight division with, at least, another tune-up bout.

As a boxing purist, however, I think Usyk is as ready for Joshua as Joshua is for Usyk.

The Ukrainian will be licking his lips at the prospect of getting his hands on his first heavyweight title against Joshua. He will have looked at both Ruiz fights and identified areas where he can find success against the bigger man.

As for the first fight, Usyk is a better counterpuncher than Ruiz. He is faster than Ruiz. He has better footwork, a better jab, and better movement than Ruiz. So, what is there to worry about?

Usyk would be, hands down, the best boxer that Joshua has ever shared a ring with. There is absolutely no question about that.

So why would he fear stepping inside the ropes against Joshua? 

If I have to give you a clear-cut answer — yes, Usyk is more than ready.

Will Joshua Beat Usyk?

Will Joshua beat Usyk? Well, we’re going to have to wait to find that out.

Can he beat Usyk? I think Joshua has the tools to beat most heavyweights on the planet, but he will have his work cut out with the likes of Wilder, Fury, and, of course, Usyk.

While many boxing fans see Joshua as an overblown weightlifter, I would suggest doing a little research on his stats if you are in that camp. Sure, he has a solid KO percentage, but his use of the jab is very underrated.

In the rematch against Ruiz, Joshua showed that he can throw the most important punch in boxing with aplomb. But when faced with someone with a better understanding of footwork and movement — as well as pressure and counterpunching skills — he does not respond very well.

So it was a little surprising when he outclassed Ruiz so easy in that second fight, but that had more to do with Ruiz’s poor tactics and excess weight.

Usyk is going to be a massive problem for Joshua. I understand why some boxing fans think he would rather drop the WBO title at the Ukrainian’s feet rather than fight him, for this reason.

Unfortunately for everyone willing to hear my opinion, I think this fight could be absolute fire. So, I’m not giving up on thinking that it won’t happen until Joshua decides to vacate.

On that basis, I am still excited to see how it will play out.

But as for who wins, I would rather break the bout down in detail once it is announced, then give you a simple answer.

Final Words

What are the Joshua vs. Usyk odds at this point? Well, they are indicative of what the bookies think about this potential heavyweight contest right now.

That is not to say that the fight won’t happen. The WBO wants it to happen, and you can bet that Usyk, at least in private, would love it to happen.

If this fight gets made soon, I’m not sure that the odds will be as favorable to Usyk. 

So, if you fancy the look of his odds — or Joshua’s, for that matter — make sure to seize the opportunity and get your bets down with our recommended boxing sites.

On a final note, I will be breaking Joshua vs. Usyk down in detail when the fight is signed off. Because the fight will be signed off soon, right?

Adam Haynes

Adam is a sports writer and tipster with a strong background in MMA, boxing, and combat sports.

When Adam isn't writing about those, as well as politics, rugby, and Gaelic Games, he can be found working on methods and strategies to beat the bookies.

For his troubles, Adam is a fan of Leinster Rugby, Glasgow Celtic, and trusting the process.

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