Oleksandr Usyk Defeats A Spirited Anthony Joshua By Split Decision

Oleksandr Usyk retained his WBA, WBO and IBF heavyweight titles with a split-decision victory over a spirited Anthony Joshua.

Inside the packed-out ‘King Abdullah Sports City’ arena, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, the Ukrainian outclassed a much-improved Joshua, who could not maintain any sustained pressure.

The scorecards, 115-113, 116-112, 113-115, for Usyk did not reflect the Ukrainian’s superior technical prowess. From the outset, Joshua’s plan was clear.

Target the body with a series of hooks and pressure the Ukrainian on the front foot. However, Usyk’s jab from the southpaw stance once again blocked any momentum as the Ukrainian kept Joshua’s work rate at bay. 

From the fourth round onwards, Joshua looked to pin down Usyk with some uppercuts. The fifth round offered some hope of success, but a low blow was called just when Joshua’s uppercut threatened to pierce Usyk. 

With Joshua continuing to pursue Usyk with his double jab and right hands, the first six rounds were closely contested, albeit Usyk was still clearly ahead. 

The second half of the fight, though, was where Joshua had some success. In the eighth round, a left hook to the body got Usyk’s attention. The Ukrainian responded with left-handed combinations of his own. 

The Brit bounced back in the ninth, as both men rose to the occasion in the championship rounds. Joshua’s assault on the ropes with some heavy hooks had the Ukrainian on the back foot and holding on.

And yet, the Ukrainian was unfazed. The following round followed with Usyk rolling through the gears in the tenth. The Ukranian shook Joshua with a right hook, followed by some cross lefts.

The British challenger responded by targeting Usyk’s chin, but it was the Ukrainian who finished stronger. Joshua needed a knockout to win, but the British boxer failed to pin down the Ukrainian, whose footwork kept him away from firing range.

And it was the Usyk who finished the stronger man with some precise counter shots. 

Joshua has now suffered back-to-back defeats, so where does he go from here? Potential fights with Deontay Wilder and Dillian Whyte may be possible, but for now, an undisputed match-up with Tyson Fury and Usyk is the fight on everyone’s lips. 

Joshua’s Reaction

Following the decision, a frustrated Joshua picked up Usyk’s belts and dropped them to the floor before making his way to the dressing room. A short while later, Joshua returned to grab the microphone as the challenger was overwhelmed with emotion.

“Usyk is one hell of a fighter. That’s just emotion,” he stated. If you knew my story, you’d understand the passion. I’m not an amateur boxer. I was going to jail, and I got bail, and I started training.

“It shows the passion we put into this. For this guy to beat me tonight, it shows the levels of hard work he must have put in, so please give him a round of applause as heavyweight champion of the world.

“They said that I’m not a 12-round fighter. I ain’t 14 stone, I’m 18 stone, I’m heavy. It’s hard work. This guy here is phenomenal.”

Usyk Reaction

As for Usyk, the Ukrainian made his intentions clear: It can only be Tyson Fury next. 

“I’m sure that Tyson Fury is not retired yet. I’m convinced he wants to fight me. I want to fight him. If I’m not fighting Fury, I’m not fighting at all.

“Only God knows whether I will fight him or not, but all these gentlemen here around me, my team, they are going to help me.

“Thanks, Lord, for everything.”

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