What can we establish from Anthony Joshua’s new leaner physique?

Anthony Joshua has endured a testing two years in the ring and we’re about to see if he’s learned from the mistakes that led to his first-ever defeat. First up for the Watford-born heavyweight, since beating Kubrat Pulev in the winter of 2020, is Ukrainian fighter Oleksandr Usyk who is, naturally, a much more challenging proposition. That’s not meant to be in any way disrespectful to the courageous Pulev, but the Bulgarian was 39 years old when he went toe to toe with AJ in December.

It should be said that the Joshua vs Usyk odds don’t reflect a fight that’s forecast to be close with the Englishman priced at just 4/11 to win the bout. Meanwhile, Usyk’s price of 9/4 suggests that he’ll have his work cut out for him and will ultimately be overpowered by the bigger stature of Joshua.

The latest boxing betting tips for the match point to a fight that will go the distance, with odds of 11/10, after Joshua was priced at an unlikely 12/1 to win the match in round three. This brings us onto an intriguing point that’s certainly stirred up some critique during the build-up to the anticipated bout.

Time: it’s been over nine months since Joshua was last in the ring delivering a victory against Pulev, which means that he’s had an extended break from boxing, but it appears as if he’s been undergoing huge physical changes over this time. The 31-year-old posted a series of pictures on Instagram recently that seemingly portrayed him in a lighter and leaner form.

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The question is: why has the current heavyweight champion opted to undergo these changes? You could argue it’s because he feels that he needs to be lighter to compete with Usyk, who’s a former undisputed cruiserweight champion, in the event that the bout goes to 12 rounds. If one was to speculate, one could say that Usyk’s game plan would have centered around avoiding a big knockout after Joshua came out the traps flying. From there, you would imagine the Ukrainian would then sit behind his jab and slowly wear Joshua down.

AJ’s camp would certainly have had some awareness as to Usyk’s potential strategy and it looks as though this preparation time has equipped the Englishman with the additional benefits of being far more fleet of foot. In other words, if it goes 12 rounds, Joshua won’t blow out after ten, given the weight he’s shed.

However, there’s another school of thought: perhaps Joshua’s new physique has less to do with the Usyk fight and more to do with a future bout with Tyson Fury. Indeed, Joshua, is, if you will, test-driving his new physique in a bid to get used to relying on the movement of his feet more, given that without the added string to his bow, he simply won’t have what it takes to beat Fury. In the past. Fury has called AJ a talentless bodybuilder and whilst that may be slightly unfair, there’s an element of truth in the sense that Joshua relies on his knockout power instead of the ability to outbox and outsmart his opponents.

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All in all, it feels like Anthony has spent 2021 preparing for Fury by altering his style and physique. We’ll soon see if Joshua has what it takes to slip and slide around the ring instead of trying to deliver flat-footed haymakers.

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