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Oleksandr Usyk v Anthony Joshua II preview: AJ vies for return of his belts

Former holder of the WBA, WBO and IBF world heavyweight titles, Anthony Joshua returns to the ring this weekend in pursuit of reclaiming world champion status. Standing in his way is the current king, Oleksandr Usyk.

After surprisingly losing his belts to Usyk at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in September, Joshua goes into this fight as the underdog. He travels to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, for the highly anticipated rematch.

We preview what could be a scintillating occasion below.

Joshua out to regain world titles

Previous to his first fight with Oleksandr Usyk, Anthony Joshua had ambitions to become the undisputed heavyweight world champion. This status would have required the man from Watford to beat Usyk that night in London and then go on to turn over the great Tyson Fury.

It was not to be for the 2012 Olympic gold medallist who succumbed to a much sharper and stronger Usyk, losing his world accolades and all the belts he had collected in the process.

The Brit is the firm underdog in this rematch, though it has been highlighted how much more effort and time training he has put into his preparations over the previous fight. Unfortunately for AJ, the same goes for Usyk.

At 13/8 to reclaim his belts, Joshua is certainly in with a chance, and it can’t be forgotten how dominant the 32-year-old was for the most part before his title loss. Winning 24 of his 26 fights, Joshua has achieved 22 knockouts and is 11/4 with enhanced odds to inflict a KO, TKO or DQ on his Ukrainian adversary in Saudi Arabia.

Joshua is expected to go guns blazing into the ring and is the favourite to win in the first four rounds. At 66/1 to win in round one and 33/1 to win in round four, Joshua will hope he has improved his fitness and power enough to take out Usyk quickly, as the Ukrainian’s odds drastically improve the later the fight goes on.

Usyk to set up a meeting with Tyson Fury?

It was an impressive performance from Usyk in London. Surprising the world champion with his intensity, power, intelligence, and technically supreme boxing, he stole the show and comfortably defeated Joshua by unanimous decision.

Stepping into the ring on Saturday as the clear 4/7 favourite, Usyk is fancied to retain his heavyweight crown, and despite claims from Fury that he is retiring, a fight with the WBC title holder could be on the cards next.

Defeating Joshua last time out via unanimous decision, the powerful Ukrainian has documented his preparations well. It is plain for all to see that he has stepped up his weight and muscle. The slightly shorter fighter is known for his tactical and technical boxing rather than going for sheer power and is 15/8 to win by decision or technical decision.

Coming up against a strong Joshua who will be determined and fit, Usyk will likely have to weather the powerful storm that has seen AJ knockout 22 opponents. However, this will surely have been considered by Usyk and his camp and worked into his game plan. He is 5/1 to get knocked down and win and is 9/4 to knock Joshua down in the first six rounds.

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