Usyk/Joshua…A Rematch of Alternate Endings…..


It is late in a London pub this Saturday night. The sound is deafening. As a non boxing enthusiast walks by, they wonder why the noise is louder than usual…….

At that same exact moment, 1,600 miles away in an undisclosed oblast, the boisterous output of countless Ukrainian soldiers shakes the very soil they are protecting……….

The rematch between Oleksandr Usyk 19-0 (13), and Anthony Joshua, 24-2 (22) this Saturday night in Saudi Arabia will provide the conclusion to the opening herein. 

The rematch is the tale of two stories, or alternate endings, as you will. The curtain rises……

Act 1-First Ending…..USYK, The Champion…..

Usyk is a modern day Picaso, painting on the canvas of the squared circle fight after fight.  In his first fight with Joshua, Usyk performed a masterclass taking the title from the former champion. 

A former top cruiserweight champion, now wreaking havoc in the heavies, he is on a similar career path reminiscent of a legend from Atlanta. 

Back in February, this rematch was the last thing on the champion’s mind as his beloved homeland of Ukraine was senselessly invaded. The overused idiom, “fighting for something larger than yourself” can unapologetically be inserted here as Usyk left boxing to fight for his country. At the urgence of his fellow soldiers, he left to pursue the rematch with Joshua. 

As long as Usyk doesn’t get careless, which he has never shown to be, this fight will be one-sided. Usyk will be even more dominant this time around. He knows the power Joshua possesses, and he has the edge of having bested him the first time around. In fact, Usyk was close to putting Joshua in serious trouble late in the first fight, last September. 

What we know….Usyk possesses the blueprint to beat Joshua. Working from his southpaw stance, a stance that Joshua admittedly admires and credits for giving him difficulty, Usyk circles, works in and out, and lands power when the opportunity presents itself. That said, it is the active jab of Usyk that is the core of the blueprint. 

In the first fight, it was Usyk’s jab that caused Joshua to reset, over and over. The southpaw’s  jab confused Joshua, and he fought cautiously, not knowing when the left power shot would come. In fact, this caused Joshua to correctly keep his right glove sealed tightly to his face, keeping himself out of harm’s way. This is textbook; however, Joshua was so cautious, he negated his own advantage, the power of his right hand.  Joshua was trapped in the tangled web that is the genius of the Ukrainian. 

Usyk needs only to follow his game plan from last September, and improve upon it. Use his speed, which was a factor against the heavy muscled lumbering approach of Joshua, and mix in the sneaky power left like he did initially in Round 3 and then throughout the fight. The jarring effect of Usyk’s power left caused Joshua to rethink everything, and arguably had him doubting his own gameplan. 

Joshua has been almost embarrassingly complementary regarding Usyk’s southpaw style. I’m unsure if he believes he can be successful. Usyk can use this to his advantage and possibly switch stances, confusing Joshua and providing an opportunity for a huge opening.  

In the lead up to this rematch, Joshua’s energy is off, not in a physical sense, but in a mental one. His body language is off and he appears to visibly show signs that he has doubt he can actually win. Usyk’s job is half done, the other half is the easy part for a painter.   


Act 2-Alternate Ending…..Joshua The Challenger…..

Anthony Joshua, are you all in? Have we already begun to see the decline? The oddity of the first fight with Andy Ruiz goes without saying. Even in the rematch, although one-sided, was not overly convincing in a stylistic sense, and more of a case of a lesser Ruiz, than an improved Joshua. 

Flash-forward to the first fight with Usyk, and it is clear, something is amiss. Sure he KO’d Kubrat Pulev in between; however Pulev is a tailored made-flat footed opponent who was fighting on a 13 month layoff. 

Combine all of this with the aforementioned vitality zap, and Saturday night may be the longest of his career yet, unless he focuses on the basics.

In the first fight, Joshua’s body attack was non-existent, his jab was sloppy and non committal, and his inability to fully commit to his power provided a recipe to relinquish his belts.    

If Usyk had any vulnerability in the first fight, it was his inability to fight off his back foot. If you look close enough, you can see that Joshua’s angles and movement were giving Usyk a bit of confusion. When Joshua moved Usyk back even with a lazy jab, Usyk looked uncomfortable, and he had to reset, stopping all of his beautiful movement. The problem is, Joshua could not sustain it, and he allowed Usyk to dictate the terms. Further, Joshua did not cut off the ring, and  allowed Usyk to control the space. 

If Joshua is to be successful in the rematch, he needs to fight tall, and commit to the jab, which carries a four inch reach advantage. Use the stick as a weapon, not just as a range finder. Be a big heavy against a blown up cruiser. Back Usyk up, and use combinations to set up the advantage. Work the body, and impose his will. 

That said, he must have success early and often. Heavily muscled fighters fatigue quickly. Evander Holyfield was the rare exception. Usyk appears bigger in the rematch than he was the first go; however, where Joshua’s size is more akin to a bodybuilder, Usyk’s size is more about endurance strength with speed. 

If Joshua fights tall, works behind the jab, and stays disciplined he can keep the superior boxer at bay. This will force Usyk to fight off of his back foot and not allow him to impose his will like he did in the first fight. 

Go back to the basics. Under the wise guidance of Robert Garcia this time around, Joshua may just be all in……


We may get a heavyweight version of Hagler v. Hearns at some point in this one, but only for a minute or so. I believe both bigs will try and make an early statement. Due to his speed, Usyk will get the better of it and will work under Joshua’s long reach, negating his power. Joshua will smartly understand that this tactic will not work, even though he is the bigger man. As such, each blueprint will have to be executed. 

There is a lot to like about Joshua’s chances after rewatching the tape and seeing that it is only the most basic components of the sweet science that he needs to execute to have success. That said, the physical piece is only half. You must have a mindset that knows no defeat. Usyk has that, Joshua has not shown that he does. 

Joshua will have more success and make things interesting; however, Usyk is just too good at this point in his career. He gets better with every fight and will be even better in the rematch. Joshua’s improved limited success will be his downfall. He will provide openings for the champion and will begin to take a beating. As the fight carries on past the middle rounds, and the heavily muscled Joshua begins to get arm weary, the speed of Usyk will become power and Joshua will find himself in trouble. His heart will say fight but his mindset will enter down that dark lonely land known as doubt. 

Joshua will show a warrior’s heart, but the referee has a job to do. Usyk’s combination punching with bad intentions are too much. 

Usyk TKO 8

As a loud patron leaves the London pub, the non boxing enthusiast  inquires of the uproar….the patron says..”Joshua was knocked out”. 

At that same exact moment, 1,600 miles away in an undisclosed oblast, the Ukrainian soldiers celebrate with pride as one of their own defends the world heavyweight championship…AND STILL!!!…….for these soldiers, and all of the Ukraine, all is right, if only for a moment…..

Curtain Closes

The Matrix Reloaded…The Return Of Vasiliy Lomachenko

Everybody…get on your feet right now…..For Loma….the best pound for pound fighter in the world…Whoever don’t agree….you know what?….Y’all musta forgot” 

We last saw P4P great and WBA lightweight champion Vasiliy Lomachenko (11-1 9KOs) in the ring on May 12 against the rugged Jorge Linares (44-4 27 KOs), at the time, the current WBA lightweight champ. Linares had been the top dog of the division for several years. Lomachenko moved up to face Linares in an attempt to capture his third title in as many weight classes.

Said Lomachenko before the bout- “The life of a boxing athlete is short, so I don’t have time to waste, or time to take tune-up fights or whatever…….I want the best, and to get the most out of my short boxing career by fighting the best that I can”

Through the first five rounds, Lomachenko cut off the ring, got inside Linares’ length, pressed the action, showed the great footwork forged by years of dancing and competitive sports, and did what Loma does.  Linares, who did land some good shots at random times, began to get visibly frustrated. 

In the sixth, Linares, the skilled boxer and champion that he is, landed a straight right and dropped Loma. Although Loma was a bit off balance, take nothing away from Linares, he did something that had not been seen before. Not overly hurt by the shot Loma regroups to finish the round and carries over his strategy of reassessing his attack to the 7th, allowing Linares to take the round. 

In the 8th, Loma is back on the attack and opens a cut over Linares’ left eye and goes after it throughout the round.  Both gave as good as they got in the 9th in a close round as Linares landed a good uppercut but Loma was offensive as well. 

In the tenth and final round, Loma paints his masterpiece, the movement, the precise combination punching, the one-two’s, the quickness, the step over and hook to the body. BANG! Game-Set-Match.


“Will there be another Loma? Probably not. Stopped Jorge Linares with a body shot. See y’all musta forgot..”

A world title in his 3rd weight division, and also sets a new record for capturing world titles in three divisions in the fewest fights, 12, beating the previous mark by 8. 

The win against Linares didn’t come without a price. Lomachenko injured his shoulder early in the fight. He stated to ESPN that it had popped out but had gone back in; however, it was providing challenges for him throughout the fight.  After  seeing a specialist, he found out that he had tore his labrum. 

He had surgery on May 30. As Dr. Neal ElAttrache told ESPN, he believed the surgery to have been a success- 

“The tissue was very nice and we were able to achieve a very nice sturdy repair that should provide him with stability in his shoulder, and I am optimistic for an excellent prognosis”  

This Saturday night, from The Theatre at Madison Square Garden, Lomachenko is back and in true modus operandi fashion, facing a tough opponent…….his first fight back from shoulder surgery. This time out he’s going to knuckle up in a unification bout with the man they call “The Sniper” once beaten Jose Pedraza (25-1 12 KO), the current WBO lightweight titlist. 

The only loss on Pedraza’s resume is Gervonta “Tank” Davis, a TKO 7 in January 2017. Loma will no doubt have an added incentive to get Pedraza out of there before the 7th to best Davis’ effort. There has been plenty of Loma v. Davis rumblings in the past.

In August, Pedraza beat tough as nails Ray Beltan by UD. Pedraza showed an active jab and fought from both stances. Beltran, not known for his speed, couldn’t handle Pedraza’s.  Beltran tried to brawl and force the fight but got cut early and was dropped in the 11th. In the end, it was youth and speed that earned the UD for Pedraza. 

In watching tape of Pedraza, and from memory of watching his fights, he throws an active jab, goes to the body, and has good speed and movement. That said, there is one glaring flaw in his game, his inability to go defensive after he throws his shots or while he is throwing them. He is wide open up the middle and as a fighter that moves forward, is susceptible to walking right into an uppercut. As he throws his jab, the openings are there to be exploited. 

Pedraza would be wise to tread lightly here with his approach. There are different levels in this game and when fighting this Ukranian, you’re pretty much at the peak. If your defense is not tight and you make mistakes, you then enter The Matrix.  

As we understood post-fight, Loma was not 100% against Linares, which may or may not have explained the knockdown and the uncharacteristic shots that were landed on Loma. Even with an injured shoulder, he stopped a tough champion. Assuming the shoulder is fight ready, as it should be, I look for Loma to do what Loma does. The beautiful movement, combination punching, tapping his punches to find the range then adding his power, utilizing the trade-mark step over while throwing with bad intentions, and so on…..

As Lomachenko recently told Teddy Atlas-

“I want to unify titles. It was my first goal when I came into the pros. I tried to unify titles at 126, 130, now I try at 135. Maybe this weight will be lucky for me. … I want to prove my father is the best coach, a genius of boxing. That’s why I do this. But it’s not his plan, it’s not his choice about second titles, third titles, it’s my choice. I want to put my name in boxing history.

“My father watched when he won his title, and he explained what I need to do in the training. … My father is the gamer, I am the game. … We have a little secret for this fight, we’ve changed a little bit of the strategy. So we’ll see in the ring.”

Ah yes, Anatoly, aka PAPAChenko, the master mind, the former amateur boxer with the unique forward thinking training methods, not only physically, but mentally. The total package……. Hi-Tech Training…..

You see the greatness not only with his son but also on all that he touches, providing wise guidance in the past to …..Oleksandr Usyk, the undisputed cruiserweight titlist and odds on favorite for Fighter of the Year, and newly crowned WBC light heavyweight champion Oleksandr “The Nail” Gvozdyk just to name a few. 

When you watch Vasiliy and Anatoly work, you can’t help but see it…..respect between a fighter and coach, but also the love between a father and son. 

Yes, this is The Matrix Reloaded………………




S-8 Quick Peek….Wilder v. Ortiz

The Heavyweight Champ is fighting!!!! The Heavyweight Champ is fighting!!! There was a time when this statement attracted the attention of the world but in recent times, not so much. That said, the bigs have been making a comeback and look to gain more momentum this Saturday night. The Barclays Center in Brooklyn will be the venue when Deontay Wilder (39-0 38 KO) and Luis Ortiz (28-0 24 KO) scrap for Wilder’s WBC World Heavyweight Title. Will Bronze Bombs be the reason that King Kong topples from the Empire State Building?…..Read on……..

Tape Tales

Wilder- Age- 32, Height-6’7, Reach-83″ Orthodox

Ortiz-Age- 38, Height-6’4, Reach-84″ Southpaw

Last 3-

Wilder (3-0)

7-16-16 TKO 8 over Chris Arreola

2-25-17 TKO 5 over Gerald Washington

11-4-17 KO 1 over Bermane Stiverne

Ortiz (3-0)

11-12-16 UD Malik Scott

12-10-16 KO 7 over David Allen

12-8-17 KO 2 over Daniel Martz

Common Opponents May Provide A Bit Of Clarity

Malik Scott- While it was not quite the phantom punch, Wilder KO’d Scott in one round with a shot off the temple. Ortiz on the other hand went the distance with Scott in route to a UD.

Not much to take away from the Wilder fight other than when Wilder hits you in a venerable area, the fight is over.

In route to his UD, Ortiz had problems with the movement and speed of Scott and got touched up.

And The Winner Is……..

Speed never has a bad day. I’ll stop just short from saying that Ortiz is tailor-made for Wilder. If Wilder fights a disciplined game plan as he did in the first Stiverne bout this will end violently. Ortiz has decent head movement and overall skills for a big man but is a plodding fighter. Wilder is an above average counter puncher with speed and should catch Ortiz early and often. Doubt still hovers over the Wilder chin; however, we have seen him take some solid shots and has been no worse for the wear. Not Ortiz solid shots but it appears Wilder has been prepared for the journey.

Wilder will set the tone with his jab and keep the powerful Ortiz at distance teasing him at times by allowing him to come in and land a few shots. Wilder will also work his opponent’s body more than he ever has.  This will all be part of the gameplan. This will be his web. Wilder will look to unload the big right at the precise moment. This time, an uppercut to end it.

Heavyweight Champ John L. Sullivan once quipped, “I can whip any son-of-a-bitch in the house”

Wilder has the same mindset everytime out and seems like he is always looking for the respect that he believes he is due. This is what drives him. He trains and fights like the challanger and believes he is superior to anyone he faces. When the body’s mental and pysical faculties are in alignment the end product is rarely defeated.

Wilder by 5th Round KO.