Anthony Joshua will beat Oleksandr Usyk in the first seven rounds of their fight this weekend as long as he shows confidence from the get-go, according to Dillian Whyte.
Joshua’s WBA, WBO and IBF world titles are on the line in one of the toughest tests of his career when he faces the Ukrainian at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Saturday evening.
The Brit has been installed as the bookmakers’ favourite to triumph over the former cruiserweight champion in north London, and his fellow heavyweight Whyte believes that will come to fruition if he can press Usyk and set the pace of the fight.
“Joshua will stop him in the first five, six, or seven rounds. Usyk will start fast, and Joshua will be a bit cagey because he’s a southpaw, and he’s lighter,” Whyte told BBC 5 Live.
“Joshua also lacks confidence sometimes in fights where he can get caught up.
“He’s a good boxer.
“Hopefully, he goes back to his old self and starts pressing Usyk and being the bigger, stronger guy and starts backing him up and hitting him with stuff.
“I think he can get the job done early. Usyk is a good southpaw, but he’s an aggressive southpaw as well.
“He likes to press the fight, but Joshua has height and reach, and power. If Joshua wants to set the pace, he can get an early knockout. But if he wants to prove who’s the better boxer, I think he’ll struggle.”
Whyte beat Joshua in the amateurs in 2009, but it has been a different story since then.
Former world champions Joseph Parker and Andy Ruiz are the only fighters that have lasted the full distance against Joshua, but his promoter Eddie Hearn has warned he is now set for his “toughest ever fight”.
Promoter Hearn told PA: “I’m very nervous, which is great. I want to be nervous because I then know it’s a real fight.
“This is probably AJ’s toughest ever fight and I think he’s going to prove to the world how good he is. He’s ready for this fight but it’s the ultimate challenge with someone that’s very strong mentally.
“Mentally it will be draining (for Joshua) because he’s going to have to think a lot, there will be a lot of feints from both men and reactions are going to be key.
“I just can’t wait to watch it unfold, it’s a real, real high-end heavyweight fight. (Usyk is) going to be a tough, tough nut to crack. AJ’s got to break him down, beat him up and hopefully take him out.”
Usyk is making the challenging transition from cruiserweight, in which division he was the undisputed world champion, to heavyweight.
The pair both won Olympic gold in their respective heavyweight and super heavyweight categories at London 2012, but now three world titles are on the line for the duo in the same category.
“I am confident of beating Joshua even though he has a combination of factors,” Usyk said.