Poor Anthony Joshua Loses Again To Oleksandr Usyk

  • Ukrainian retains WBA, IBF, WBO titles by split decision

As predicted by many pundits, Nigerian-born British boxer, Anthony Joshua fell to an agonising split decision defeat against Oleksandr Usyk of Ukraine to leave him facing an uncertain future in the heavyweight division he previously ruled.

In an enthralling rematch on Saturday night, Usyk edged a thrilling contest 113-115, 115-113, 116-112 at the King Abdullah Sports Centre Arena in Jeddah to complete a second successive victory over Joshua and retain the WBA, IBF, and WBO titles.

The all-out assault many were calling for never materialised, but Joshua’s performance was far superior to that passive night at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium almost a year ago when he surrendered the belts in such a disappointing fashion. Joshua lost the three heavyweight world titles to the Ukrainian about 11 months ago in September 2021

Flanked by new trainer Robert Garcia in his corner, Joshua produced a much-improved performance 11 months on from his defeat by the former undisputed cruiserweight ruler. But Usyk again proved too good as he was given the nod on two of the three judges’ scorecards.

However, Joshua’s showing was marred by his post-fight actions when he picked up two of the four belts on offer, slammed them on the canvas, and stormed out of the ring in anger. The Olympic champion regained his composure and returned to the ring before delivering an X-rated speech as emotions boiled over in Saudi Arabia.

An hour earlier, Joshua had walked to the ring first for just the second time in his career and was decked out in black, a change of outfit having been dressed in white for his previous 11 world title fights. In another nod to Mike Tyson, the Brit was accompanied by the motivational words of legendary trainer Cus D’Amato.

Usyk, meanwhile, made his walk from the changing room in the blue and yellow of his homeland as he looked to extend his unbeaten record and cement his position in the upper echelons of the mythical pound-for-pound list.

And it was Usyk who landed the first solid punch of the fight with a left hand to the chin as Joshua looked to work the champion’s body. He then responded to another left hand with a backhand of his own but it was the Ukrainian who made the better start.

Joshua punctuated the start of the second round with a right hand as he looked to take the initiative. He looked to drop down to the body but Usyk’s footwork continued to cause problems, as it did in their first meeting, as he landed flush with his lead right hand.

The Nigerian-born British boxer landed a clubbing left-right in the opening minute of the third stanza but was struggling to find any consistency in the face of Usyk’s evasive style. The champion worked his way into the round towards the bell but it was the challenger who did enough to nick the session.

Joshua’s corner told him he had won the opening three rounds and he landed a stiff jab to open his account in round four. A right hand forced Usyk back but the smaller man took the shot well on his gloves before planting his feet and landing his dangerous left hand.

Left hands were traded at the start of the fifth round as a more aggressive Joshua looked more comfortable letting his hands go. Joshua looked to have Usyk hurt with a body shot but the Ukrainian complained of a low blow and was given time to recover.

Joshua stalked Usyk at the beginning of the sixth round as he landed a right hand followed by a left hook. The challenger’s right eye was beginning to show signs of wear and tear as the pace began to slow. But Joshua rallied the crowd with a right hand against the ropes. Usyk responded with a left-hand-right hook before finishing the session on top.

Looking to rough up Usyk as the fight entered the second half, Joshua grabbed his head and looked to land on the body. He took the centre of the ring and landed a right to which Usyk replied with the opposite hand as he took over in the second half of the round.

The referee ordered the canvas to be cleaned before the start of the eighth round as the rivals’ sweat in the desert heat level made the ground slippy underfoot. On the resumption, Joshua landed a left hook to Usyk’s ribs but the champion responded with a flurry. But he was forced to grab on when Joshua resumed his assault on the body, as he had promised during their final face-off.

Joshua was finally able to work his way inside and began to maul Usyk’s body in the centre of the ring. He had the champion on the back foot for the first time in 21 rounds as the Ukrainian looked momentarily shaken.

But Usyk showed no ill effects as he made a fast start to the 10th round with a flurry of left hands. Joshua had little answer to the onslaught but suddenly found a right hand from nowhere to stun his adversary. But it was Usyk who came on stronger in the final minute as his powers of recovery came to the fore.

Usyk sensed an early finish with six minutes remaining but Joshua remained dangerous when he switched to the body. But the champion had seemingly limitless reserves of conditioning as he picked his punches to ensure he took a lead into the final round.

Joshua likely needed a stoppage in the final session and did land a right hand against the ropes only for Usyk to respond immediately. And it was the champion who finished on top before the judges confirmed his reign will continue by delivering scores of 113-115, 115-113, and 116-112 on the night. – The Mirror

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