LONDON, ENGLAND – Oleksandr Usyk turned the heavyweight division upside down to become a two-weight world champion with a unanimous decision victory over Anthony Joshua for the WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight world titles on Saturday.
The Ukrainian’s footwork kept him out of trouble as his precise jab and quick combinations piled on the points as he won by the judges’ scores of 117-112, 116-112, 115 -113 in front of Joshua’s 68,000 spectators at the Tottenham Hotspur. Stadium in London, England.
Usyk (19-0, 13 KOs), 34, injured Joshua (24-2, 22 KOs), 31, in the third round and nearly finished the English boxer in the middle of a furious attack at the end of the 12th tower. Joshua will want a rematch, but he failed to seriously threaten Usyk, who was faster on the punch and more elusive.
Joshua, the naturally taller man who lost the titles for the second time in two years, now bears the considerable cost of yet another shock defeat that puts an end to his hopes of fighting English rival Tyson Fury for all four world titles. heavyweights next year.
WBC champion Fury defends his title in a third fight with American Deontay Wilder on October 9, but the winner of that fight could now continue a clash with Usyk, who won the titles in his third bout in the weights. heavyweights after unifying the four world heavyweights. titles in 2018.
Most of the world heavyweight title belts are now back in Ukrainian hands with the success of Usyk, after brothers Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko dominated the division while reigning as champions from 2004 to 2015, including a period when they held the four belts between them. Vitali was there at ringside in London to enjoy the moment.
Usyk, a mandatory challenger for Joshua’s WBO belt and who started the fight as ESPN’s No.4 heavyweight, became the third boxer to win world cruiserweight and heavyweight titles after David Haye (England) and Evander Holyfield (United States).
Britain once again proved to be a happy hunting ground for Usyk, this is his third victory here in three years, and follows his Olympic gold medal in London 2012.
“The fight went exactly as I expected,” Usyk said.
“There were times when Anthony pushed me hard but nothing special. I had no goal of knocking him out. My corner urged me not to do it. You haven’t seen the best Usyk. I can be much better. “
Joshua weighed 240 pounds, 19 pounds heavier than Usyk who, despite being the heaviest in his career at 221 pounds, was still noticeably shorter than the ring champion. Joshua was also three inches tall and had a four inch reach advantage, but Usyk overcame all of those challenges with his quick moves, smart boxing skills, and courage.
Joshua, of Watford, took advantage of his first crowd at a large UK stadium in three years and looked relaxed as he walked into the ring amid a fireworks shootout. However, he tensed in the first round which allowed Usyk to score with more shots – including a right hook to the side of the header.
Usyk, from Kiev, is a good friend and trains alongside Vasiliy Lomachenko, the brilliant lightweight who has won world titles in three weight classes. Like Lomachenko, Usyk has sublime footwork and combined with his skillful southpaw skills, has proven to be a hard target for Joshua to find. Usyk couldn’t put much weight into his shots in the second round, but managed to pass with a snake, left hand in the middle in another provisional, tight round.
Usyk continued to find openings, including a quick left hand that knocked Joshua down in the third round. The champion smiled and wasn’t seriously injured, but his corner had to be concerned about Usyk’s growing dominance. Joshua responded with a stiff right hand in the fourth and tightened his defense to deny Usyk any opportunity to land anything.
Round four belonged to Joshua, who landed a good right hand in round five but was also caught by a few jabs. Usyk’s reliable right hand lead kept stretching as he sought to set up his left hand, but he finished sixth on the back foot as Joshua landed heavily, one hand only. law.
Usyk was better in the seventh, picking up a meter on the left, then nearly knocking Joshua out later in the round. The Ukrainian grabbed Joshua with a left to the jaw which caused the Englishman to stumble back as momentum reversed again. But Joshua responded with an aggressive eighth round, landing a right uppercut. Usyk then proved too elusive in the ninth.
Both had cuts around the right eye on the tenth round, and Joshua’s corner worked to reduce the swelling before the 11th round. With blood streaming down his face, Usyk landed a few punches at the start of the 11th to set up a crucial final session.
Usyk started out full of energy and hunger and bounced two left hands off Joshua’s head. Joshua continued to press but couldn’t find the punches to hurt Usyk. The challenger was busier and more daring and finished off the champion with a barrage of hooks that left Joshua slumped on the ropes and saved by the final bell. If there had been a few more seconds, Joshua looked like he had been stopped.