Oleksandr Usyk Schools Anthony Joshua Again to Remain Unified Champion!
Boxing heads finally were able to witness the highly-anticipated rematch between unified heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk (20-0, 13 KO’s) and the man he defeated to win the belts, Anthony “AJ” Joshua (24-3, 22 KO’s). The two met to settle their grudge at the Jeddah Superdome in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
Formerly the undisputed cruiserweight champion, Usyk had long established himself as one of the best boxers on the planet. But he had even loftier goals of winning titles in a new division. In 2019, he made his ascension up in weight and worked himself up to mandatory contender status. On September 25, 2021, the native of Ukraine stepped into and challenged the then-defending champ Joshua in “AJ’s” home turf of Great Britain.
On that night, Usyk seized control early. Joshua staged a rally in the mid-rounds, but by the final bell, he was a hurt and wounded warrior as Usyk closed the fight in tremendous fashion. Overall, it was a terrific performance by the fighter from Ukraine as he took Joshua’s titles by unanimous decision. Gutted, Joshua immediately enacted a rematch clause.
This rematch was pushed back several months after Usyk took arms to fight with his countrymen due to the ongoing war between Russia and his home country. In arguably the biggest fight of 2022, both men came in with a high degree of motivation. Obviously Joshua was aiming to reclaim his belts for the second time.
BEEN HERE BEFORE
Over the course of the opening rounds, Joshua was able to come out and establish himself as the bigger man. By changing levels, going to the body consistently, and applying pressure, AJ was largely dictating the action. For his part, Usyk was using his feet and feints well, which allowed him to regularly land his sneaky offense. By the fifth, Usyk was firmly in control of the fight. Although a low blow delivered from AJ did momentarily pause the action.
Once Usyk fell into his grove, the passing rounds began feeling like painting by the numbers. In each period, Usyk slid around the canvas, slipped punches and punched AJ when he wanted. In response, Joshua pawed with his jab, followed and generally looked confused. During the eighth round though, AJ went to the body with gusto. This paid off with an excellent eighth and ninth round. In fact, the ninth was by far his best round in either fight.
CLOSE THE SHOW IN STYLE
Seeking to squelch the uprising in progress, Usyk came out and buzzed Joshua in the opening moments of the tenth. He was reasserting himself until a stiff straight right paw decked him in the mouth. Showing his resilience, the unified champion ended the period with the same dominance that he began it with. Joshua would never get back in the match. Over the remaining rounds, Usyk continued to put on a master class performance.
Predictably, when the scorecards were read, Usyk was crowned the winner by way of split decision to the tune of 115-113 (AJ), 115-113 (Usyk) and 116-112 (Usyk). While predictable that Usyk won, it was something of a surprise that Joshua took one of the scorecards. In his post-fight interview, not only did Usyk express interest in facing WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury, he said it’s the only fight that he wants.
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By: Bakari Simpson