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How much can a professional boxer change in order to match his opponent? 

It’s become abundantly clear that Anthony Joshua has been moving heaven and earth over the last few months in order to find a way to match Tyson Fury’s prowess in the ring. Indeed, AJ seems to be departing from his power-hitting to more of a strategic approach in the ring. This new direction that AJ and his team have taken is undoubtedly a nod to Fury’s brilliance, but how much can a boxer change in order to match an opponent? After all, AJ is now in his thirties, so can you teach a relatively old dog new tricks?

It will no doubt depend on who you ask, but let’s first consult the official odds for their fight to see if we can draw any conclusions on whether AJ’s transition to a more fluid fighting style will pay dividends.

Interestingly, anyone betting on boxing matches will see that the Fury vs Joshua odds still price Fury as the outright favourite at 4/7. The odds of him winning by KO/TKO are now 11/4, while a draw is estimated at 22/1 odds. Furthermore, anyone reading the latest boxing betting tips will find more conclusive evidence that at 11/2 to win on points after 12 rounds, it’s unlikely that AJ will outbox Fury.

Basically, it’s been well documented that AJ won’t rush into a fight with Fury but the expert opinion is that no amount of time spent perfecting a style in the gym will be enough for Joshua to find a way to win against this formidable opponent.

Indeed, it seems that fighters are reliant on their boxing education when they get into the prime of their careers and will battle to implement radically different styles with any sort of success. That’s not to say that professional boxers can’t pick up new techniques, but they would have to make minor adjustments rather than wholesale changes.

Looking back and with this in mind, the only time AJ did really go toe to toe with a fighter with quick hands was against Andy Ruiz Jr at Madison Square Garden. You probably don’t need to be told again but what followed in that decision was the biggest upset seen in boxing for decades. Now, whilst one doesn’t expect AJ to necessarily drop his hands against Fury and throw all caution to the wind, the fact that he’s lighter means he’ll surely try and match Fury’s agility in the ring.

The danger for AJ here is that Fury has been fighting this way since he was a child. Indeed, boxing is all Fury has ever known and he’s been groomed in a way that makes him the most dangerous heavyweight in the world. In other words, if fighters try to exchange blows with Fury then they are likely to be outboxed quite soon afterwards.

Fight fans need only look at how easily Fury disposed of Deontay Wilder in February 2020, when the Alabaman took him on with a volley of punches, to know that plays right into Fury’s strengths.

With this being the case, could AJ’s change of style actually hurt his chances of beating Fury? Would Fury be more susceptible to a ferocious uppercut rather than a battle of attrition? We’ll have the answers to those questions soon enough.

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