Anthony Joshua’s offer to regain the unified heavyweight titles ended in disappointment when Oleksandr Usyk put in a stellar performance by winning by split decision in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
In a clash heralded as rage on the Red Sea, an exuberant Joshua, 32, showed some aggression and intention – a big improvement over their first fight – but couldn’t match the Ukrainian’s brilliance and skills in the ring. who improved his record to 20 wins over 20 games.
Two judges scored the fight 115-113 and 116-112 for Usyk and the third gave 115-113 to Joshua.
Although there have been a few close rounds, Usyk – in his fourth fight since going from cruiserweight to heavyweight – was the well-deserved winner.
At the end of the fight, an enraged Joshua – quite bizarrely – grabbed two of Usyk’s belts, dropped them from the ring, and headed for the locker room, before turning and returning to the ring to deliver a passionate speech. “Usyk is a damn good fighter. It’s just emotions,” he said. “If you knew my story, you would understand the passion. I’m not an amateur boxer. I went to jail and got bail and I I started training. Joshua breaks into the post-fight press conference after losing to Usyk
“Show the passion we put into this. If this man wants to beat me tonight, it shows how much effort he put in, so please give him a round of applause as world heavyweight champion.
“They said I’m not a 12-shot fighter. I don’t have 14 stones, I’m 18 stones, I’m heavy. It’s a hard work. This man here is phenomenal.”
Joshua also went to Usyk and told him: “I studied Ukraine and all the champions from your great country. I’ve never been there. What happens there, I don’t know, but it’s not fun.
“You are not strong, how did you beat me? Because of skills. I had character and determination. ”
He has now suffered streak defeats against Usyk, with the champion retaining the WBA (Super), WBO and IBF titles he won in London last September.
Usyk says he just wants to fight Tyson Fury
Joshua had some success in the fight, enjoying his best round in the ninth, attacking Usyk and delivering a series of punches reminiscent of the AJ of yesteryear.
But that’s Usyk’s genius, he came back fighting in the tenth round and got hit after hit. Usyk got a five-punch combo and Joshua became a sitting duck.
Joshua was tired and Usyk – who only a few months ago had defended his country from the Russian invasion – made the most of it in the championship rounds. “I am widely this victory for my family, my country, my team, to all the military defense of this country – thank you very much,” he said, before calling the WBC Tyson Fury champion.
“I am sure that Tyson Fury is not yet retired. I am convinced that he wants to fight. I want to fight him. If I don’t fight anger, I don’t fight at all. “God only knows if I’m going to fight him or not, but all these gentlemen around me, my team, they’re going to help me.”
Fury recently announced his retirement but has until August 26 to decide if he will give up the belt.
The Gypsy King slammed both fighters on social media and hinted he might not be done boxing. The carrot of a duel with Usyk – which would surely cement the winner’s legacy as an all-time great – is up in the air.
Tyson Fury reacts to Anthony Joshua’s loss to Oleksandr Usyk
The boxers took their walks in the ring around 1:00 a.m. local time. Even in those early morning hours, the temperature was in the 30s as around 12,000 fans packed the air-conditioned King Abdullah Sport City Arena. A crowd that had been somewhat subdued for most of the night came alive when Joshua – the challenger – walked first to the ring. Cheers echoed around the arena as Usyk followed him. It was clear who the fan favorite was.
Before the fight, there were questions about how Joshua and new trainer Robert Garcia had worked after working together this year.
The early rounds were tight, but ones Usyk probably managed to beat. After three rounds, American Garcia told Joshua he had won every round.
The champion was given time to recover in the fifth round after a Joshua low blow had him wincing. A two-punch combination to Joshua’s midriff and head, from range, was the pick of the sixth round.
As the fight progressed, Usyk’s movement started to dictate the fight. He landed a counter left in the seventh, before Joshua unloaded two smart shots to the body in the eighth. Then came two of the most memorable rounds, of the 24 out of two bouts, between the two fighters. Joshua gave his all in the ninth and tried to get Usyk in trouble. Maybe it was Usyk’s trick that tired Joshua. In the tenth, he broke Joshua’s resolve and went into battle.
Joshua was shocked after the decision and spoke directly to the crowd
Prior to the fight, Joshua and promoter Eddie Hearn said the defeat would not lead to retirement, but described the fight as a must. After losing his third in five games, Joshua must now relaunch his career. But he can get good things out of his performance. His reputation and his legacy took a hit, but perhaps not as badly as many had predicted.
In June 2019, Joshua suffered a shocking knockout defeat to Andy Ruiz Jr in New York. Six months later, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia,
Joshua claimed his heavyweight crown with a disciplined points win.Beating Usyk, however, was a completely different challenge. Joshua faced a pound star per pound – the toughest lefties. And he faced a Ukrainian patriotic determined to bring much-needed joy to a war-torn country.
Boxing fans wanted to see some heart and fight from Joshua. In the 10th round, when attacked by Usyk, he barked “Go” at his opponent.
Such is the beast of heavyweight boxing and the fame Joshua gets that there will always be criticism. This time, however, maybe not because of his performance, but because of his post-fight interview.