While we all were waiting anxiously to crown the first-ever four-title undisputed heavyweight champion this summer, boxing contracts got in the way of seeing the Anthony Joshua vs Tyson Fury bout. Fury is concluding his trilogy with Deontay Wilder in October and Joshua will now defend his championships against former undisputed cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk.
This heavyweight title fight is taking place on September 25 at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and the event sold out in less than 24 hours. For this big fight, it is the reigning champ, Joshua, who is the betting favorite.
Online sportsbook Bovada has the Anthony Joshua vs Oleksandr Usyk odds and Joshua is the -260 favorite while Usyk is the +190 underdog. To make $100 with a Joshua winning bet, you would be required to lay $260, while a $100 winning wager on Usyk would profit you $190.
Odds as of August 5 at Bovada
Examining the Joshua vs Usyk odds, tells us that the champ’s -260 odds represent an implied win probability of 72.22 percent and the challenger’s odds of +190 have a 34.48 percent implied win probability.
From a betting perspective, the change of opponent is a positive one for Joshua as he was the underdog in the AJ vs Fury odds but will be the chalk in this bout. The champ was a four-figure favorite in several fights on his rise but his loss to Andy Ruiz as a -1600 favorite in June 2016 has made a little uneasy setting him as that considerable a favorite. In his bout with Kubrat Pulev, he likely would have been over -1000 had he not had that Ruiz defeat but rather closed at -800.
I love this fight because there are two narratives that you can look at. For the general fan, you may look at major value on Joshua at -260 but for those in the know, “The Cat” at plus money also represents incredible value. For the bouts that Usyk has been involved in that had odds, he was the betting favorite in each, and looking at the pound-for-pound rankings, he is rated ninth by ESPN and fourth by the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, while Joshua is not ranked.
If you’re unfamiliar with Usyk, perhaps you are more familiar with former No. 1 pound-for-pound boxer Vasyl Lomachenko. I bring up Loma because his father, Anatoly Lomachenko, trained both men. Of course, the thing that pops out for both is extreme fight IQ, elusive footwork and great counterpunching.
The knock on the southpaw coming up from cruiserweight – this is just his third heavyweight bout – is the lack of knockout power. Over his last nine bouts, including seven at cruiserweight, he’s scored four knockouts, which may seem impressive but not at heavyweight. While he may lack pressure, his conditioning, speed and output in that division is a real X factor.
AJ thought he could bully Andy Ruiz in New York in June 2019 and he realized in short order that was a bad approach with the fast-hand, powerful Mexican. That bout ended with Joshua knocked out in the seventh round. In two subsequent fights, including the rematch with Ruiz, he fought with a more conservative stick-and-move approach that carried him to victory in both, and a thunderous knockout vs Pulev.
While the ability to stick and move is important in some fights, the fact is that AJ has the advantage in height, reach and likely weight as well when they tip the scales. If he were to bully Usyk and close the distance, it’ll take away the Cat’s room to work and counter.
I think both men will have their moments in what is going to be a tremendous fight between a pair of gold medalists at the 2012 London Games (super heavyweight for AJ, heavyweight for Usyk). Joshua will have the power advantage with 22 of his 24 victories have ended in a knockout, while the Cat’s fight IQ and footwork is his advantage.
I don’t think anyone is going to be stopped in this fight and I really think it is going to be decided only by a couple of rounds either way. For those reasons in what I foresee as a really close fight, I’m going with the underdog to pull off the upset.