Anthony Joshua returns to the ring for his eagerly-anticipated match-up against former cruiserweight king and now heavyweight enigma Oleksandr Usyk this weekend.
The IBF, WBA and WBO champion puts his belts on the line against the undefeated Ukrainian, who will fight for the third time at heavyweight, after defeating Chazz Witherspoon and most recently Derek Chisora.
Joshua put in a scintillating performance in his previous outing against the ever-tough Kubrat Pulev, mixing his new back-foot style with the old hard-hitting, spiteful puncher we’d previously become accustomed to as he claimed a ninth-round stoppage win.
The 31-year-old had appeared nailed on to take on rival Tyson Fury for the all of the belts in one of, if not the, biggest fight in British history.
But with an American arbitrator ruling Fury must take on Wilder for a third time instead, a bout taking place in October, Joshua now looks to take care of his WBO mandatory challenger.
Though Usyk’s capabilities at heavyweight are still somewhat of an unknown, it’s a match-up that has generated significant interest in what could be a seriously dangerous fight for the Brit.
With the bout swiftly approaching, Sportsmail takes you through everything you need to know.
Anthony Joshua put in a destructive performance as he knocked out Kubrat Pulev in December
Oleksandr Usyk defeated Derek Chisora in his second outing in the heavyweight division
When is Anthony Joshua vs Oleksandr Usyk?
The clash between Joshua and Usyk is scheduled to take place on Saturday, September 25 at a full capacity Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London.
Joshua is fighting in London for the second-straight fight, after defeating Kubrat Pulev at Wembley Arena in December last year.
There is also an abundance of action on the undercard, with the likes of Lawrence Okolie and Callum Smith entering the ring.
How to watch the fight
The fight will get underway at around 10.30pm on Saturday evening, for those in the UK.
The time of the main event will, of course, depend on the undercard action, which gets underway from 7pm.
Fans will be able to watch the event live on Sky Sports Box Office at a price of £24.95.
For those outside of the UK, the fight will be available to watch on DAZN.
Sportsmail will also be running a live blog, so you can keep up-to-date with us.
Joshua vs Usyk: The key stats
Height: 6ft 6in
Record: 24W, 1L, 0D
Height: 6ft 3in
Record: 18W, 0L, 0D
Fight card in full
Cruiserweight world champion Lawrence Okolie is fighting on the undercard on September 25
- Lawrence Okolie vs Dilan Prasovic for the WBO cruiserweight title)
- Callum Smith vs Lenin Castillo
- Campbell Hatton vs Izan Dura
- Maxim Prodan vs Florian Marku
- Christopher Ousley vs Khasan Baysangurov
- Daniel Lapin vs Pawel Martyniuk
What’s been said?
Joshua has been typically respectful in the build-up to the fight, insisting Usyk will be his second-toughest opponent to date.
‘On paper, he [Usyk] sits No2 behind Wald [Klitschko],’ he told the 5 Live Boxing podcast. ‘They’re very different technically, but on paper – gold medalist, how long did he [Klitschko] reign as champion, 10 years?
‘Wlad at heavyweight did very, very well for himself. So, Wlad No1 for those reasons, and Usyk for his cruiserweight success.’
Joshua has also opened up on what he needs to do to win, telling Sky Sports: ‘Concentration – when you want to [punch], you lock in, then make a move.
‘You have to make sure your brain works. That can be mentally fatiguing so I am sharpening the mind so that I can concentrate for the 12 rounds. Also I practice having the ability to [punch] four times, not just once.
‘It’s a fight for the brain. Knowing what you’ve got in front of you and knowing how to deal with it.
‘You can either be aggressive, corner [him], throw everything at it. Or take your time, be clever, then knock [him] out.’
Joshua again looks to have shed weight ahead of his all-important clash against Usyk
Usyk’s promoter Alex Krassyuk insists the Ukrainian is not too small to be a heavyweight
Pictures have also emerged of Joshua looking lean ahead of the bout, and the heavyweight champion admits he’d be foolish to come in too muscle-bound.
‘I’m fighting a guy who is a 12-round fighter,’ he added. ‘So it would be silly of me to go in there bulky with my muscles screaming for oxygen.
‘I’ve been training like a 15-round fighter in this camp. I will be well-conditioned to fight. That is key.’
Meanwhile, Usyk’s promoter Alex Krassyuk has revealed they needed no second invitation to accept a non-obligatory rematch clause, insisting the Ukranian is confident he will win both bouts.
‘The rematch is something that is not obligatory in the mandatory fight. But we accepted the very fair conditions to agree to it,’ Krassyuk told mybettingsites.
‘Usyk is very confident in his victory over AJ and easily agreed for the second bout because his mindset will be even more favorable after he wins first.’
He added: ‘For those who do not see the clear reality that Usyk is a heavyweight, Usyk is the same size, weight, reach as his idol, Muhammad Ali. Can anyone of those say Ali was not a true heavyweight?’
Joshua vs Usyk: The odds
After putting in back-to-back stunning, and varied, performances against Andy Ruiz Jr and Kubrat Pulev, it comes as no surprise that Joshua is the favourite to prevail – regardless of Usyk’s prowess.
Joshua looks to have taken his shock defeat to Ruiz in his stride, shedding an abundance of unnecessary bulk and adopting a more cautious but clinical style.
In Usyk, he faces a highly skilled southpaw with a phenomenal amateur career and largely unparalleled credentials at cruiserweight.
Joshua comes into the fight as favourite after his scintillating performance against Pulev
Simply put, this no walk in the park for Joshua. But his height, power and skill make him the favourite nonetheless.
Joshua comes in as the 4/11 favourite to get the win, while Usyk is the underfog at 9/4. Meanhwile, a draw is at 22/1.
*Odds as per Betfair and correct at the time of publication.