MAFB: Anthony Joshua vs Oleksandr Usyk Review
Anthony Joshua vs Oleksandr Usyk came good on all the promises during the build-up. A tactical, technical chess match at the very highest level of the sport. It is extremely easy to be reactive after a stunning underdog performance, but AJ is nowhere near a finished product. Usyk produced as sparkling a performance as possible, while Joshua fought to all of his disadvantages. The rematch will be a glorious affair with both men changing their approaches.
Due to the quality of the fight, Joshua and Usyk deserve a full fight breakdown. While Prodan and Marku fought to a gritty decision, the entire fight narrative can largely be summed up by Marku’s exceptional back-foot jab and Prodan’s limited ring-cutting. Instead, Okolie’s world title defence and Campbell Hatton’s robbery have warranted attention.
Catch up on the preview and predictions of Matchroom: Joshua vs Usyk if you haven’t already, and have a good old laugh at our expense.
More interested in number crunching? Find out how each fighter ranked on the Pintsized Interest scale this weekend on MAFB Math: Joshua vs Usyk.
Lawrence Okolie vs Dilan Prasovic
Okolie def. Prasovic // KO Round 3 1:57
It was only in 2018 that Okolie was seen as nothing more than a sweaty, hugging octopus man. The dreadful UD victory over domestic rival, Matty Askin, led to the Liverpudlian hanging up his gloves and The Sauce to refine his style. Moving to Shane McGuigan has seen Okolie utilise his reach with a regular jab. Prasovic excels on the inside, yet Okolie kept him at bay with a ramrod jab to the body. Whenever the Montenegran bit down on the gumshield and ate a shot to close the distance, Okolie could fall back on his ugly clinching to smother Prasovic’s work and weight down on the smaller man.
The sheer size of Okolie has proved too much for everyone he has faced at Cruiserweight. Prasovic is a step down from Glowacki, yet the young prospect is a game fighter with a solid chin. It is difficult to see how an opponent can stop Okolie from utilising his length advantage. Prasovic threw no feints, perhaps that is the key to breaking Okolie’s stoic game plan. Okolie’s long stance and resultant slow re-positioning could be used against him, but it is likely only Mairis Briedis or an Usyk return could execute successfully.
Lawrence Okolie Analysis and Future
A stellar defence of his WBO title albeit against tame opposition. Winning based on the jab alone, there has been no need for Okolie to expand beyond straight shots. The mental fortitude to stay at range and break opponents down, rather than chase finishes, will ensure Okolie stays at the top for a long time. Briedis was called out after the fight, but a match-up with Ilunga Makabu would be preferential. Experiencing a career resurgence in his twilight, Makabu shocked both Papin and Cieslak on his path to the WBC title. In both fights, however, Makabu rode his heart, durability and activity to victory. Okolie’s power and ability to spoil Makabu’s work on the inside would almost ensure the Brit can add a free world title to his arsenal.
Dilan Prasovic Analysis and Future
Prasovic is only twenty-six but he has just had to swallow an emphatic defeat for the first time in his professional career. If Prasovic is happy to fight cans in Central/Eastern Europe, he could build up promotional rankings towards another money fight to fall against a prospect. If Prasovic is serious about his career, he should get a fight with Efe Apochi in the USA immediately. Apochi is a big name and powerful hitter, but his extremely limited skillset could be exposed even by Prasovic. It’s worth the risk for the scalp.
Campbell Hatton vs Sonni Martinez
Hatton def. Martinez // Decision (referee’s scorecard – 58-57)
We’re only a handful of fights into young, Campbell Hatton’s professional career, but there hasn’t been much to get excited about. Desperate to employ the style his wildly successful father crafted, Campbell lacks the power or mental to utilise it yet. Martinez may have been a slicker counter-striker than expected, but Hatton made it easy for the Uruguayan. After landing a couple of body shots, Hatton happily lingered in front of Martinez with his blinkers up.
As of now, it is too easy for Campbell to be forced back to the centre of the ring. After spending much of the rounds pressing opponents to the ropes, he lacks the footwork nor physical strength to keep opponents pinned back. In part, this is due to the physical inferiority of his youth. What could be fixed is Hatton engaging in an even uglier fight. While it seems impossible considering the already ugly swarming style, but Hatton has been unwilling to tie up opponents. Campbell can’t tie an opponent’s head or arm then throw, he only seems to throw when both his hands are free. Unless Hatton learns how to land successfully during the disarray of a clinch, his work will always be limited.
Campbell Hatton Analysis and Future
It is too easy for critics to tell Campbell it is time to move to the small hall shows. This isn’t the first time that Campbell has stank out the joint. Eddie appears determined to make Campbell a decent name, so the smallest show Campbell will likely feature is the NXT prospect events. A solid journeyman like Jamie Quinn is likely too much for Hatton, even after four fights. Instead, just find a bottom of the barrel international journeyman i.e. Anel Islamovic (2-24) or Khalid Shenwary (0-13).
Sonni Martinez Analysis and Future
The life of a travelling journeyman is unforgiving. UK fans may have been outraged at the decision, yet Martinez is unlikely to have earned many fans. If the Uruguayan is smart, however, he will linger in the UK and beg Hearn for another crack at a UK prospect. He is unlikely to find such easy pickings as Campbell Hatton, but he could earn a decent payday against someone like Reshab Mati – who only seems capable of destroying cans at the minute.
Florian Marku. The Albanian does it once again, this time decisively beating a well-schooled boxer.
Oleksandr Usyk. Usyk’s wealth of amateur experience and elite coaching saw him out-class AJ on his home soil.
Surprise of the Night
Usyk def. AJ (UD). While it was expected to be a close fight, many felt the champion’s size would prove fatal. Usyk’s speed and footwork said otherwise.
Fight of the Night
Usyk def. AJ (UD). Chess matches can often be boring, but when it is for the Heavyweight championship, your eyes are glued to the screen.
Finish of the Night
Okolie def. Prasovic (KO Round 3 1:57). Prasovic was levels below world title level, but Okolie still gave him a pasting.
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