TOMORROW night Anthony Joshua and Oleksandr Usyk will find out which one of boxing’s most dog-eared cliches applies to them.
How many times have we heard, “A good big ’un always beats a good little ’un” or, “A clever boxer beats a big puncher”.
This Tottenham Hotspur Stadium battle is for Joshua’s WBA, IBF and WBO titles but it could easily be called the Weight Watchers world heavyweight championship.
Most weigh-ins are usually just the titillating overture before the curtain goes up.
But all eyes will be on the scales today because what the needle shows could be of the utmost significance when it comes to the outcome of this David v Goliath battle.
Unbeaten Ukrainian Usyk might be a master craftsman but he is coming up from the cruiserweights to take on Joshua — a 17stone powerhouse.
Usyk is bound to have bulked up from his 14st 8lb natural fighting weight. Some forecast he will be at least 16st.
If Usyk has not got the balance right and overdone the muscle-building, he will lose vital speed which will make Brit Joshua’s task that much easier.
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But if his nutritionist has managed to work out the perfect combination of adding strength without any loss of agility, Joshua could be in serious trouble.
It always captures the fans’ imagination when great champions from a lower division come out of their comfort zone to have a go at the big boys — not that Usyk at 6ft 3in is a midget.
But I’m afraid history is against the Ukrainian — since the heavyweight division started 132 years ago only two men have managed to prove size doesn’t matter.
Michael Spinks, world light-heavyweight champion, was the first when he got a very controversial points decision over Larry Holmes, 36 years ago.
And, in 2003, Roy Jones Jr outpointed John Ruiz to win the WBA version of the title and then promptly relinquished it.
There have been many exceptional 12st 7lb men who have tried, and failed, to win the richest prize in sport.
These include Tommy Loughran, John Henry Lewis, Gus Lesnevich, Bob Foster and Archie Moore — who tried twice and was KO’d by Floyd Patterson and Rocky Marciano.
The first to have a go was George Carpentier, the idol of the Parisians, who challenged Jack Dempsey in front of 80,000 New Jersey fans in 1921.
Carpentier was brave enough having won the Croix de Guerre — France’s Victoria Cross — in the First World War.
He just found being outweighed by 17lbs too much against a ruthless puncher like Dempsey and was KO’d in the fourth.
But it was Billy Conn who managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in June 1941.
With his speed of thought and movement, he was outclassing the immortal Joe Louis.
At the end of the 12th, with the 60,000 New Yorkers inside the Polo Grounds in a frenzy of excitement, he had the world heavyweight champion staggering back to his corner — he was nearly two stone lighter than the 14st-plus champion.
All he had to do was dance for the last nine minutes to achieve one of boxing’s most memorable triumphs.
But he then had a rush of blood to the head. For a reason known only to Conn, he then decided that Louis was ready to be knocked out.
He was overexcited and when he went for it, he left himself wide open to one of Louis’ lethal right-hand bombs.
And Conn’s moment of immortality had gone as he lay asleep on the canvas being counted out . . .
When Louis was asked before the fight if he was worried that Conn would be much too fast for him, Joe said in his usual laconic way: “He can run, but he can’t hide.”
A remark that has been used again and again worldwide.
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Fortunately for Joshua, the same one-liner now applies to Usyk.
Not surprisingly, Joshua is 2-5 favourite. But Usyk is a short-priced 9-4, so there’s a lot of good boxing judges who believe he has a great chance of lifting the three titles and infuriating Tyson Fury.
I think the first cliche will prevail. Being hit, pushed and shoved around by Joshua is bound to tire him and I can see him being stopped around the ninth.
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