Unified heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua faces former undisputed cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London on Saturday (DAZN, 1 p.m. ET, main event at 5 p.m. ET).
Joshua (24-1, 22 KOs), 31, of Watford, England, ranked No. 2 in ESPN’s heavyweight rankings, owns the WBA, WBO and IBF world titles. His most recent fight was a ninth-round TKO victory over Kubrat Pulev in December at Wembley Stadium in London.
Usyk (18-0, 13 KOs), 34, of Shypyntsi, Ukraine, unified all four major cruiserweight world titles by defeating Murat Gassiev in the World Boxing Super Series final in July 2018. After defending the belts against Tony Bellew four months later, Usyk moved up to heavyweight in 2019, where he has victories over Chazz Witherspoon and Derek Chisora.
If Joshua wins, he’ll turn his attention to the winner of the fight between WBC champ Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder, who meet in Las Vegas on Oct. 9 for the third time. If Usyk pulls the upset, Joshua has stated he’ll face Usyk again in a rematch.
Also on the card, Lawrence Okolie defends his WBO cruiserweight title against Dilan Prasovic, and former super middleweight champion Callum Smith goes up in weight to face Lenin Castillo in a 10-round light heavyweight battle.
Nick Parkinson recaps all the action from ringside:
Fight in progress: Campbell Hatton vs. Sonni Martinez, 6 rounds, lightweights
Smith scores KO of the year candidate against Castillo
Former WBC super middleweight world champion Callum Smith made a winning return with a devastating second-round knockout of Lenin Castillo.
After losing his title to Canelo Alvarez by unanimous decision in December 2020, Smith stepped up a division in a bid to become a two-weight world champion.
Smith made quite a statement, laying out Castillo flat on his back from a right hand. Castillo’s legs were left twitching by the right punch and he required medical treatment for several minutes before being carried out of the ring on a stretcher.
Smith (28-1, 20 KOs), 31, from Liverpool, who made two super middleweight title defenses, is hoping to land a 175-pound title shot next year.
Castillo (21-4-1, 16 KOs), 33, from the Dominican Republic, took Dmitry Bivol the distance in a unanimous decision loss for the WBA light heavyweight world title in October 2019 but was quickly in trouble against Smith.
Marku edges Prodan for split decision win
Florian Marku claimed his biggest career win as he jabbed his way to a split decision victory over Maxim Prodan in a welterweight contest.
Marku won by scores 97-93, 96-94, with the third judge scoring it 99-91 to Prodan. Overall, it was a disciplined performance for Marku in the second fight on the card.
Ukraine-born, Italy-based Prodan (19-1-1, 15 KOs), 28, was slow to get going, and in the last round Marku felt so confident he would get the decision, that he was raising in hands in celebration.
London-based Marku (9-0-1, 6 KOs), 28, who was born in Albania, got a lot of support from the early arrivals at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and he looked as though he had scored a third-round knockdown when Prodan was left sitting on the canvas. Fortunately for Prodan, it was judged to have been a slip.
Marku’s jab allowed him to control the early rounds, and he appeared so relaxed that he crossed his legs while sitting on his stool in between rounds.
Prodan, who clashed with Marku at the weigh-in on Friday, landed a flurry of blows at the start of the sixth and had more success late in the round despite Marku raising his hands insisting he was not hurt.
Prodan was the busier man in the later rounds, including the last round, but it was only enough to convince one of the three judges. The result won Marku a regional welterweight title.
Ousley outpoints Baysangurov
Christopher Ousley enjoyed a comfortable 10-round majority decision win over Khasan Baysangurov to edge closer to world middleweight title contention.
The Chicago-based boxer finished Round 4 well and came out swinging with hooks in the fifth round.
Baysangurov (21-2, 11), 24, of Samashki, Russia, remained aggressive throughout, but Ousley’s smart boxing saw him pick off his opponent. Ousley (12-0, 9 KOs), 30, saw his last fight end in a no-contest after he was judged to have landed a low blow against Sergio Acosta Osuna in May. He sunk to his knees in ecstasy when he heard the scores of 95-95, 97-94, 97-94 Saturday night.
Baysangurov was beaten for the first time since Rob Brant stopped him in the 11th round for the WBA middleweight title in February 2019.
Still to come:
Title fight: Anthony Joshua vs. Oleksandr Usyk, 12 rounds, for Joshua’s IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight titles
Title fight: Lawrence Okolie vs. Dilan Prasovic, 12 rounds, for Okolie’s WBO cruiserweight title