Oleksandr Usyk ends Joshua’s reign as world heavyweight champion

Joshua later tweeted, writing: "Keep positive even if the world´s crumbling in front of you! London I love you & thank you each and every time!"

AFP
Sunday Sep 26, 2021
Oleksandr Usyk ends Joshua’s reign as world heavyweight champion

London: Oleksandr Usyk ended Anthony Joshua´s reign as world heavyweight champion in front of the Londoner´s home crowd with a stunning unanimous points decision victory on Saturday, scuppering hopes of a ´Battle of Britain´ unification bout with fellow world title-holder Tyson Fury.

Joshua ended the 12th and final round of the contest backed up on the ropes, with the cheers of a crowd of more than 66,000 at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium no match for the skills of his challenger.

The impressive Ukrainian triumphed 117-112, 116-112 and 115-113 on the scorecards of the three judges in just the former undisputed cruiserweight world champion´s third bout as a heavyweight.

His victory, which extended Usyk´s perfect record as a professional to 19 wins from as many fights, saw him become just the third boxer after Evander Holyfield of the United States and Britain´s David Haye to win both the cruiserweight and heavyweight world titles.

Boxing fans have long looked forward to a clash between Joshua and British compatriot Fury, who defends his World Boxing Council heavyweight title against Deontay Wilder in Las Vegas next month -- the third time the pair have fought each other following a split-decision draw and a win for Fury.

But Joshua had to get past Usyk, the 2012 Olympic heavyweight champion at a London Games where Joshua won the super-heavyweight gold medal.

"This means a lot for me. The fight went the way I expected it to go. There were moments when Anthony pushed me hard but it was nothing special," said Usyk, who now follows brothers Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko in becoming a Ukrainian world heavyweight champion, via a translator.

"I had no objective to knock him out because my corner pushed me not to do that. In the beginning, I tried to hit him hard, but then I stuck to my job."

There is a rematch clause, with Joshua -- who has now won 24 and lost two of his professional bouts -- having previously lost his belts when beaten by Andy Ruiz in New York in June 2019 only to regain the titles in a rematch in Saudi Arabia six months later.

Eddie Hearn, Joshua´s promoter, told Sky: "I have spoken to him (Joshua) and it was a tough fight. He is devastated.

"Congratulations to Oleksandr Usyk... He put in a great performance and the better man won.

"(Joshua) never really got going, he will go to hospital now, I don´t know if he has broken his eye socket, it doesn´t look great."

But Hearn added: "The fighter in AJ is already talking about winning the rematch."

Joshua later tweeted, writing: "Keep positive even if the world´s crumbling in front of you! London I love you & thank you each and every time!"

And despite defeat, he was backed to bounce back by Lennox Lewis, a former three-time world heavyweight champion.