Oleksandr Usyk wins unanimous points decision after gruelling fight in front of estimated 67,000 crowd in London.
Seats for this boxing match were selling for as high as 10,000 British pounds, and it didn’t disappoint.
The world woke up on Sunday to a new WBA, WBO and IBF heavyweight champion, as Oleksandr Usyk put on an incredible display of nerve and skill as he outfought Anthony Joshua to win a clear and unanimous decision. A former undisputed world cruiserweight champion, the unbeaten Ukrainian is thought of as a much more natural and gifted fighter than Joshua, yet he had yet to prove himself against the world champion.
From the opening round Usyk took charge, with a good left-hand lead, positive work with the feet, and not giving up an inch of ground. The Ukrainian forcefully stood his ground in the centre of the ring rather than resort to backing away and fighting at distance, and began what would become a trend for this fight, unsettling Joshua by setting puzzles of movement which seemed to confuse the more physically imposing ‘AJ’. The pattern was set by the third round – and Joshua was battered by a big left blow, his head swelling and a stunned look appearing in his eyes.
Joshua was never allowed to settle with Usyk’s smart use of feints and little dips of movement, and as the fight continued it was clear that the outgoing champion was struggling. A swelling formed around his left eye and he needed his trainer Robert McCracken to encourage him.
Joshua was reduced to landing soft blows by the final rounds, and he was looking ever more tired as Usyk continued to dictate. With a scathing combination of blows and then a devastating right hand, Usyk continually forced Joshua back, with the champion looking drained, seemingly unable to even see all the punches which were flying his way.
By the 12th round, Joshua was literally on the ropes, desperate for a stoppage and resigned to the fact he had less energy and aggressiveness than the 220lb Ukrainian.
Looking for a massive blow to knock Usyk out in the final seconds, Joshua came up short and the judges scored the fight 117-112, 116-112 and 115-113 in favour of Usyk. The world saw a new heavyweight champion.
Joshua suffered a suspected damaged eye socket in the brutal defeat, though he was not taken to hospital.
Usyk’s impressive victory is by far the most significant of his career, and it has blown open the world boxing heavyweight division. Joshua’s team believed that a victory over Usyk would result in talks with Tyson Fury’s camp for the long-awaited battle between the two British fighters, but now ‘AJ’ is no longer the world champion, and heavyweight boxing has been shocked by the brilliant Usyk after his remarkable victory.
There is even talk of a rematch, which will certainly bring in lots of money for both fighters, but with Joshua looking shaken, it might be quite some time before he is in good enough physical and mental shape to fight again!