Anthony Joshua looks supremely lean ahead of his clash with Oleksandr Usyk… but how has his fluctating weight impacted performance over the years and what can we expect on Saturday?
- Anthony Joshua takes on Oleksandr Usyk in an intriguing match-up on Saturday
- The heavyweight champion puts his WBA, WBO and IBF belts on the line
- Joshua once again looks supremely lean ahead of the highly-anticipated bout
- He has shed the weight since his shock defeat to Andy Ruiz Jr back in 2019
- But how have his displays changed? And what can we expect on Saturday?
Anthony Joshua’s weight has been a significant topic of conversation in recent years, with the heavyweight champion receiving hefty criticism in the past for being too muscle bound.
But as he boasts a supremely lean physique ahead of his eagerly-anticipated match-up with Oleksandr Usyk, in what is becoming a pattern for the WBA, WBO and IBF champion, there are now some questioning whether Joshua has gone too far in the opposite direction.
These claims have been quashed by Joshua, who insists he ‘doesn’t focus’ too much on his weight. But with a marked and continued change in the 31-year-old’s physique since his shock defeat to Andy Ruiz Jr in 2019, Sportsmail takes you through the history of his weight and analyses just what could be awaiting Usyk on Saturday.
Anthony Joshua looks much leaner ahead of his bout with Oleksandr Usyk (shown left) than for his fight against Carlos Takam in 2017 (right), when he was at his heaviest
In store for Joshua is former undisputed cruiserweight king Usyk, or ‘The Cat’ as he’s nicknamed, who is known for his expert lateral movement and supreme boxing IQ and is expected to pose novel problems for the champion.
Joshua has labelled the 34-year-old as his second-toughest opponent to date, behind Wladimir Klitschko, and insisted he would be ‘silly’ to come in heavy against a 12-round fighter.
It’s a tactic that has been questioned by Usyk’s team, who believe Joshua is only diminishing the physical advantages he has over the Ukrainian.
Joshua has assured that won’t be the case, however, sarcastically saying: ‘I’m going to come in light. Run around the ring, try not to get hit.
‘I’ll be on my bike all night. I don’t want to get out of 140 heartbeats per minute, so I’m really skinny.’
He continued: ‘Listen, I’m as solid as a rock. I’m strong, I’m good at the weight. I don’t really focus on my weight. It’s just training. I just put in the work.’
We’ll find out exactly how much Joshua weighs on Friday afternoon as the pair come face-to-face for the final time before the fight. But before then, we can take a look back at his weigh-in history.
ANTHONY JOSHUA’S CAREER IN WEIGHTS, FIGHT BY FIGHT
Emanuele Leo – 16st 6lb
Paul Butlin – 16st 8lb
Hrvoje Kisicek – 16st 5lb
Dorian Darch – 17st 3lb
Hector Alfredo Avila – 17st
Matt Legg – 16st 12lb
Matt Skelton – 17st 1lb
Konstantin Airich – 17st 2lb
Denis Bakhtov – 16st 12lb
Michael Sprott – 17st 2lb
Jason Gavern – 17st 7lb
Raphael Zumbano – 17st 10lb
Kevin Johnson – 17st 10lb
Gary Cornish – 17st 11lb
Dillian Whyte – 17st 7lb
Charles Martin – 17st 6lb
Dominic Breazeale – 17st 5lb
Eric Molina – 17st 11lb
Wladimir Klitschko – 17st 12lb
Carlos Takam – 18st 2lb
Joseph Parker – 17st 4lb
Alexander Povetkin – 17st 8lb
Andy Ruiz Jr – 17st 9lb
Andy Ruiz Jr – 16st 13lb
Kubrat Pulev – 17st 2lb
Oleksandr Usyk – N/A
Joshua’s pro debut vs Emanuele Leo in 2013: 16st 6lbs
Joshua climbed through the amateur ranks at electric pace and made history by claiming a gold medal at the London 2012 Olympics.
Just over a year later, the already popular Joshua made his professional debut, weighing in at just 16st 6lbs against Emanuele Leo, who had an 8-0 winning record at the time.
Joshua was impressive on his professional debut, knocking out his unbeaten opponent
The Brit evidently carried a significantly smaller frame than what we’ve become accustomed to in more recent times. And though against lesser opposition, he came flying out the blocks, hunting for the knockout immediately.
It didn’t take the explosive heavyweight long, as Leo was knocked to the canvas in the first round following a flurry of punches with the fight immediately waved off.
Joshua vs Hrvoje Kisicek in 2013: 16st 5lbs
Joshua has weighed less than in his debut just once in his career, in his third bout against Hrvoje Kisicek, which took place just over a month afterwards.
Again, it was a short night for Joshua, who claimed a TKO victory in the second round.
Joshua was at his leanest ever weight against Hrvoje Kisicek in 2013 at 16st 5lbs
Though faced with the prospect of just six rounds to negotiate, Joshua was once again immediately on the front foot and had his opponent effectively finished before the first bell.
Kisicek would not hear the second, with the referee waving off the bout after the Croatian managed to get to his feet from an emphatic knockdown.
Joshua vs Dillian Whyte in 2015: 17st 6lbs
Joshua’s level of opposition swiftly increased as he rose through the division, but so did his weight.
By the time Joshua fought Dillian Whyte in 2015, when he became Commonwealth and British champion, he was over a stone heavier than in his outing against Kisicek.
For the first time in his career, Joshua’s went beyond the third round – and his heart, chin and gas tank were truly tested.
Joshua was taken into deep waters for the first time against Dillian Whyte back in 2015
After a destructive first round, in which he battered Whyte from pillar to post, Joshua was rocked and wobbled by a thunderous left hook in the second, but managed to stay on his feet and see out the round.
Joshua’s output significantly slowed in the following rounds but he found a second wind around the halfway point, and by the seventh and final round he was well on top once more.
Whyte was unsteadied by an overhand right to the temple, with Joshua finishing the encounter with a stunning uppercut.
Joshua was clearly fit enough to recover and come on strong in the seventh, but perhaps the warning signs were there, having required a couple of rounds off after being tagged heavily.
Joshua vs Wladimir Klitschko in 2017: 17st 12lbs
Joshua became a world champion in his following fight against Charles Martin, where he dismantled the southpaw with ease in just two rounds.
A somewhat underwhelming performance against Dominic Breazeale followed, where Joshua claimed a seventh-round stoppage win, before a third-round stoppage victory over Eric Molina set up a clash with Wladimir Klitschko.
Again, Joshua continued to pile on the pounds as his level of opposition grew. And against Klitschko, he weighed in at a then career heaviest 17st 12lbs.
This time, it almost backfired for the heavyweight.
Joshua made a promising start to the fight and held his arms aloft after knocking down the veteran 41-year-old in the fifth round with over two minutes still on the clock.
Joshua was knocked down for the first time in his career against the great Wladimir Klitschko
But he fought back and claimed a stoppage victory in the 11th round in a blockbuster affair
He went in for the kill but in doing so emptied the gas tank. By the end of the round he was out on his feet. And by the sixth he was on the canvas after receiving a thudding right hand to the head.
Similarly to the Whyte fight, Joshua took a number of rounds off as he regained his stamina and composure.
In reaching the 11th round for the first time in his career, Joshua gained his second wind and was able to close the show in style after a jaw-dropping uppercut.
Again, however, the warning signs were there. Joshua had punched himself out, and had Klitschko stepped on the gas after his knockdown it could have been a different conclusion.
Joshua vs Carlos Takam in 2017: 18st 2lbs
After struggling with his fitness levels against Klitschko in his previous fight, it was certainly a surprise when Joshua came in heavier once more against Carlos Takam.
In fact, it was – and still is – the heaviest Joshua had ever weighed at 18st 2lbs.
It was another hard night for Joshua, who suffered significant damage to his nose early in the fight after a headbutt from Takam.
Joshua recorded his heaviest ever weight for his knockout win against Carlos Takam in 2017
Joshua knocked Takam down in the fourth round but he was unable to close the show until the 10th, with the stubborn Frenchman proving a handful throughout.
Takam landed on several occasions and rightly felt aggrieved when the contest was waved off following a flurry of punches from Joshua, having arguably won the round prior.
Joshua was the deserved winner and would have taken the fight on points if required as he extended his record to 19 wins, 19 knockouts. But again, the heavyweight’s electric speed and ferocious intent appeared to have somewhat dwindled.
Joshua vs Joseph Parker in 2018: 17st 4lbs
Though just five months later, Joshua had clearly made a drastic change in preparation for his bout against Joseph Parker, where he lost nearly a stone.
His camp typically played down the importance of Joshua’s weight, but there was a general acceptance at the time that he came in too heavy against Takam.
Joshua promised he would be ‘much sharper’ ahead of the fight, with the then undefeated champion Parker known for his blistering hand and foot speed.
Joshua strolled to a unanimous points victory over the previously undefeated Joseph Parker
Indeed, Joshua was significantly quicker on his feet and was still full of energy come the final bell as he went the distance for the first time, claiming a unanimous points victory and Parker’s WBO strap in the process.
But this was certainly a different AJ to what we had seen previously. It was all about boxing: hit and not get hit. Even when he had Parker shook, Joshua was respectful and unwilling to throw the kitchen sink at his opponent.
In the end, it was a routine victory for Joshua. Shedding the weight gave him increased speed and endurance, and his boxing skills – which go all the way back to his Olympic days – were too much for Parker. He just couldn’t get close.
Joshua vs Andy Ruiz Jr (1) in 2019: 17st 9lbs
Having dropped down in weight to match the fleet-footed Parker, Joshua then put on the pounds once more in consecutive fights.
He first overcame a difficult start to stop Alexander Povetkin in ruthless fashion, before suffering a truly shocking defeat to Andy Ruiz Jr.
Weighing 5lbs heavier than against Parker, Joshua went toe-to-toe with Ruiz, who clocked in at a staggering 19st 2lbs and was barely given a puncher’s chance.
Entirely abandoning the boxer-mover style he utilised against Parker, Joshua knocked Ruiz to the canvas with a stunning left hook in the third round.
Joshua was shocked on his American debut as Andy Ruiz Jr claimed a shock stoppage win
Fighting on American soil for the first time, he looked to make an impression and went hunting for the knockout. But Ruiz wasn’t done, far from it.
He clipped the Brit, who was rocked, shocked and ultimately never recovered as he was floored four times with the fight waved off in the seventh round.
Even when shook, Joshua kept trading with Ruiz, never operating on the back foot or using his significantly better reach and foot movement. It was certainly a lesson for Joshua.
Joshua vs Andy Ruiz Jr (2) in 2019: 16st 13lbs
There were many advising Joshua to avoid an immediate rematch with Ruiz, insisting he would be better off taking a confidence-building bout before facing his demons again.
But Joshua showed immense character, and primarily skill, as he once again dropped nearly a stone with the rewards evident.
This time, Joshua weighed in at 16st 13lbs, his lightest weigh-in since taking on Denis Bakhtov at 16st 12lbs all the way back in 2014.
A slimmed down Joshua dominated Ruiz and claimed a unanimous points win in the rematch
The highly impressive heavyweight won back his collection of world titles in the process
Rather than engaging with the fast-handed Ruiz, Joshua operated on the outside, seamlessly out-boxing his opponent, who quite remarkably came in an even heavier 20st 3lbs.
Though going the distance, Joshua made a bold statement with his victory. He looked sharp, intelligent and had clearly made adjustments following the shock defeat.
The loss had not damaged Joshua, but improved him.
Joshua vs Kubrat Pulev in 2020: 17st 2lbs
In Joshua’s most recent outing against Kubrat Pulev in December 2020, Joshua again weighed in light at 17st 2lbs.
It was slightly heavier than his previous outing against Ruiz, but otherwise it was once again all the way back in 2014 that Joshua weighed the same.
Joshua put in another spectacular performance, looking full of energy and this time adding more spite to his newly-formed style.
A trim Joshua put in another exquisite performance as he stopped the ever-tough Kubrat Pulev
The Brit was intelligent in the way he picked his moments, knocking down the ever-tough Bulgarian on four occasions before the fight was finally stopped in the ninth round.
It was perhaps a career-best performance for the heavyweight, who showed further progression with his new slimline physique really paying off.
Joshua vs Usyk in 2021: What can we expect?
So, what will we see from Joshua as he takes on Usyk on Saturday?
As stated, Joshua once again looks as if he’ll come in lean, with pundit Spencer Oliver believing we may see the lightest AJ ever.
Joshua has been open about focusing on movement and endurance, with Eddie Hearn revealing his fighter has abandoned weight sessions for more time in the boxing ring.
Interestingly, Joshua’s training partner Marko Milun has revealed more amateur boxers than professionals have been used in camp, believing the fight will be tactical, rather than a war.
‘I think he chose me and other amateurs as sparring partners because he needed guys similar to Usyk,’ he told Betway Insider blog.
‘Usyk fights like an amateur boxer more than a normal professional and maybe that’s why he wanted me and Viktor Jurk and other amateurs, the only professional in camp was Shokran Parwani when I was there.
He continued: ‘AJ will be at home, the crowd will be behind him and my prediction is AJ will win comfortably. But I will tell you that this will be a smart fight, not a war.’
Joshua’s choice of sparring partners and his slimline physique certainly would point in that direction. But as we saw against Pulev, if he hurts Usyk, Joshua will go in for the kill.
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