Oleksandr Usyk dethrones heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua!
In what will be a shock to some, and logical conclusion to others, Oleksandr Usyk (19-0, 13 KO’s) has successfully defeated Anthony “AJ” Joshua (24-2, 22 KO’s)! With the victory, by way of unanimous decision, the Ukrainian boxer has usurped Joshua’s WBO, WBA, IBF and IBO heavyweight titles. The win is especially impressive since the former undisputed cruiserweight champion was only three fights into his heavyweight tenure. Not only this, Usyk continues his tradition of unseating champions in their own backyard.
In his premiere bout in the division, versus Chazz Witherspoon, a great deal of fans were not sold on the Ukrainian as a legit heavyweight threat. Sure, he had boxing knowledge and skill to spare, but it was not clear if he’d be able to handle the size and power differential of the elite in the division. Then in Usyk’s next battle, with Dereck Chisora, he conducted himself markedly better. In against Anthony Joshua, the gifted craftsman of violence had hit his stride. Usyk had adjusted to the new bulk of his opposition, assumed his ideal fighting weight, and was wreaking havoc in the ring.
MAN ON A MISSION
For Joshua, this is a sad day. The defeat will be the second of his career. AJ was only two fights removed from that June 1, 2019 loss to Andy Ruiz. In that instance, there is the high probability that Joshua got caught overlooking the unheralded late replacement from California. The unified heavyweight champion was making his US debut and was likely unconcerned about the chubby Mexican. Once in the ring however, after suffering early fight adversity, Ruiz was able to soundly batter Joshua.
Once Ruiz had cracked his defensive code, he dropped AJ four times before stopping him in the seventh. Joshua would go on to defeat Ruiz in an immediate rematch and reclaim his titles. Yet, it should be noted that in the rematch, Ruiz was a much diminished version of himself. This is due to having gorged himself on the luxuries that came with success and money. After reclaiming his titles, Joshua roughly dismissed WBO mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev by way of ninth round knockout. Now, he will have to go right back to the drawing board.
While there was not a ton of quality action, Usyk put his fancy footwork on full display in the first round. For the entirety of the period, the Ukrainian was in motion, although he was doing anything but running. Instead he successfully kept AJ off balance with his perpetual movement, dancing feet, head feints and upper body motion. For the most part, the two just pawed with their jabs but the southpaw Usyk landed a handful of lead left-hands. He was also able to stay close within punching range without absorbing notable damage.
Little changed for Joshua over the next two rounds of action. Usyk continued to bedevil AJ with his movement and regularly sting him with hard shots. Then, in the final minutes of the third, Usyk seriously wobbled the champ with a thumping left hook. While nothing overly devastating had landed, the former cruiserweight was dedicating a good amount of attention to the body. This came most often in the form of straight rights and lefts to the rib cage. The fifth round was by leaps and bounds the best one of the night so far for AJ, yet some still may not have given him the nod. In that period, he landed a pair of eye-catching body blows and touched Usyk’s chin a few times. Yet, every time the champion scored a meaningful offense, the challenger was sure to score himself.
As the momentum continued to swing in his favor, Joshua caught Usyk with a big, straight right and right hook that appeared to bother him. The round remained close in the seventh until Usyk drove Joshua back with a straight left when their feet were tangled. Despite the punch not hurting him significantly, Usyk kept him on the back foot for the duration of the period. The eighth was a clearly favorable round for AJ, who blasted Usyk’s body throughout and was the dominant ring general.
The fight became much more dramatic in the tenth when AJ’s right eye began to swell shut and Usyk suffered a cut on his right eyebrow. Each man landed great shots but the Ukrainian was coming on. Oleksandr Usyk continued to surge throughout the eleventh as he caused Joshua to miss numerous shots and pay for many of them. Seemingly down on the cards, AJ began the twelfth eating shots and covering up. About the midway point, Usyk drilled him with a right-left 1-2 combo which left blood streaming from his nose.
The bout ended with a hurt and exhausted Anthony Joshua being battered and brutalized along the ropes. With perhaps twenty more seconds, AJ likely would have been knocked out. When the bell sounded, the champion lumbered to his corner and collapsed on his stool. When the scorecards were read, Oleksandr Usyk was crowned the winner. With the win, the Ukrainian unified champion suddenly becomes the most belt-holding and important heavyweight in the division. In the his post-fight interview, Usyk was more concerned with seeing his family than talking about plans or thoughts on his next bout.
By: Bakari Simpson