Oleksandr Usyk vs. Anthony Joshua Boxing Odds, Pick & Prediction: 2 Bets for Heavyweight Rematch (Saturday, August 20)
Francois Nel/Getty Images. Pictured: Oleksandr Usyk and Anthony Joshua
- Oleksandr Usyk and Anthony Joshua meet in a DAZN-televised headliner on Saturday afternoon.
- After Usyk's initial win, Joshua retooled his fight camp with new trainers.
- Ben Fowlkes look at the rematch from a betting persective, with a pair of leans.
Usyk vs. Joshua 2 Odds
For his 27th professional bout, Anthony Joshua (24-2, 22 KOs) finds himself in unfamiliar territory. No, it’s not in the desert heat of Saudi Arabia, where he last fought in 2019 to reclaim the heavyweight title he’d lost to Andy Ruiz.
Instead, what he’ll have to get used to in his return to the kingdom is playing the role of the underdog, as the former champ who used to go into each fight heavily favored to win is now a +160 dog in his rematch with current IBF, WBO and WBA heavyweight champ Oleksandr Usyk (19-0, 13 KOs).
So how did we get here? For starters, this major line shift (Joshua was a -200 favorite the first time he fought Usyk, in 2021) would seem to reflect oddsmakers’ feelings that Usyk’s TKO win over Joshua in September was no fluke.
That’s a change from Joshua’s only other loss and subsequent rematch against Ruiz, in which even after being put away in the seventh frame Joshua still opened as a -225 favorite in the immediate rematch.
But Usyk did more than just win a unanimous decision over Joshua last time out, it would seem. He also proved that his foot speed, quickness, and overall ring savvy can more than make up for any deficits in size. And oddsmakers aren’t necessarily convinced that Joshua can figure him out any better the second time around, with Usyk currently going off as a -205 favorite.
Well-Prepared Joshua Looks for Revenge Against Usyk
Usyk found success right away in the first fight by pressuring Joshua, forcing him back, and refusing to let the big man bully him around.
He hurt Joshua with punches at several points, early and late, and stood up to Joshua’s punching power with relative ease.
For much of that fight, Joshua looked lost and confused. He struggled to get his own offense going and ended up conceding the initiative (and with them the rounds) to Usyk.
The question now is, has he given us any reason to think it will be different the second time around?
He’s certainly tried to do the right things, or at least the things we might expect. He’s changed up his team and brought in new trainers, including one – Robert Garcia – with a reputation for polishing experienced fighters into better versions of their previous selves, even after they’d been largely written off.
But Usyk hasn’t exactly spent the past year twiddling his thumbs, either. His fight camp has come with stories of incredible feats of athleticism and endurance. He showed up for fight week looking like he’d packed on some solid new weight, perhaps anticipating that Joshua will try to use his own size more in the rematch.
You could argue that maybe Usyk’s had a lot to distract him lately, what with the Russian invasion of his home country of Ukraine, which prompted Usyk to briefly join his country’s defense forces.
But seeing him at this week’s press conference, clad in traditional dress and belting out the Ukrainian national anthem, it was hard not to think that the turmoil in his country has only hardened his resolve.
Joshua’s gotten a lot of unsolicited advice ahead of this rematch, like Tyson Fury urging him to bull his way in close and work the body of Usyk while using his own size more. And sure, that’s probably what Fury would do. But that’s easier said than done, especially when it likely means eating more punches on the way in, which Joshua doesn’t seem eager to do.
Joshua has also suggested that he struggled with Usyk’s southpaw stance last time, and has since made the necessary adjustments. But, sly dog that he is, Usyk showed up this week and made sure he was seen shadowboxing in an orthodox stance, perhaps to keep Joshua guessing.
Usyk vs. Joshua pick
To the Joshua fans out there, the +160 underdog line probably seems well worth the risk, especially with how thoroughly he avenged his loss to Ruiz. But then, Ruiz also clearly did not take his rematch preparations as seriously as he needed to, as he later admitted, and so it’s not like Joshua was really tested there.
The best value bet here may be taking the -155 line from DraftKings on the fight going over 9.5 rounds. If the thought of heavyweights doing more than 30 minutes of continuous fighting scares you, maybe consider playing it safer with the -165 line on Usyk to win in rounds 7-12 or via decision. Usyk isn’t a natural heavyweight, and even as he’s steadily bulked up, he hasn’t ever been known as a finisher in the early rounds.
Joshua’s best chance may be to get to Usyk early, but Usyk is extremely durable and seemed to have very little trouble shrugging off hard shots from Joshua when he had to in the first fight.
If Usyk does finish this fight, he’s likely to do it sometime in the later rounds. While it’s always going to feel a little risky betting on heavyweights to go the distance in the weight class where just about everyone possesses at least the hint of one-punch power, FanDuel’s +190 line on Usyk via decision is offering is also very, very promising.
Leans: Over 9.5 rounds (-155) | Usyk via decision (+200)