Outstanding Usyk rules in London as Joshua humbled on home turf

By Sports Desk September 25, 2021

Oleksandr Usyk produced a boxing masterclass to sensationally dethrone Anthony Joshua at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, completely altering the heavyweight landscape in the process. 

Usyk maintained his unbeaten record as a professional by outsmarting and outclassing the home favourite for the vast majority of their 12-round contest, rightly earning a unanimous points triumph to claim the IBF, WBA and WBO titles on Saturday.

Joshua started slowly and simply never managed to catch up. While there were bright spells for the defending champion around the midway stage, he faded badly down the stretch having struggled to ever impose himself. 

Usyk even threatened to force a late stoppage as the Ukrainian came on strong in the closing rounds, yet he eventually settled for a comfortable win on the scorecards. The three judges scored it 117-112, 116-112 and 115-113 in his favour. 

"The fight went exactly the way I expected it to go,” Usyk said in his post-fight interview with DAZN. 

"There were times when Anthony pushed me hard but nothing special. I had no objective to knock him out. My corner pushed me not to do that."

Joshua had hoped to be taking on WBC title holder Tyson Fury in a lucrative showdown to decide an undisputed champion in the division, only for that plan to be scuppered when his rival was ordered to face Deontay Wilder for a third time instead. 

Usyk was the back-up option picked to bridge the gap, the mandatory challenger with the WBO holder coming with a superb pedigree but limited experience at heavyweight. 

Still, the former undisputed cruiserweight champion was undeterred by giving away both a height and weight advantage. Elusive from the outset, his southpaw stance and smooth footwork bamboozled a plodding Joshua. 

Straight lefts landed with unerring accuracy, though by the halfway stage it appeared the Briton had begun to work out a method to counter what he was up against. 

However, it proved to be a false dawn for Joshua, the composed Usyk undoubtedly finishing the stronger of the two, including an impressive 11th round that saw him land consistently before a finale that saw Joshua at times appearing ready to buckle. 

While he did make it through to the final bell on his feet, the verdict was clear: Usyk had stunned both his opponent and a partisan crowd to be crowned in the English capital.

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    WBC champion Fury is eager to return to the ring by early 2022 following victory over Deontay Wilder in the trilogy fight between the pair in October.

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    "He's not very old, although he's accomplished a lot. He's had gaps in his career between lay-offs due to whatever circumstances he was dealing with. It hasn't been consistent. 

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    The undefeated Fury has 31 wins to his name, with the only blotch on his record a contentious split-decision draw against Wilder in their first clash.

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    "He's shown us flashes of greatness, but we need to see one last thing," he added. 

    "What makes a champion is consistency, so we need six to 10 Larry Holmes style wins, Lennox Lewis style wins, staying busy. Lennox was a busy fighter. Lennox defended his title, he fought a lot.

    "We need three, four fights a year consistently for the next two years if not more. I think he's a great guy and a great fighter, but I just think we need to see consistency and consecutive wins."

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    Anthony Joshua stepping aside from his Oleksandr Usyk rematch would be a "great step for the heavyweight division", says former American boxer Shannon Briggs.

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    "I don't care who fought Usyk. Usyk is a machine. He's not like normal people. He's not like normal humans. This man can handstand on his arms for an hour. This is what I was told. This man is in phenomenal shape. 

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    "Maybe not Fury because of the height and the size, but we're going to see. That's what makes it great, because the interest is there. If Joshua is to step aside and let him fight Usyk, it might not be bad. Just a thought, and then he fights the winner."

    Indeed, Usyk is a phenomenal machine, having held world champion status in two weight classes while he is one of only four boxers to simultaneously hold the WBA, WBC, IBF and WBO titles.

    Briggs, who collected 53 of his 60 wins via knockout, appreciates the class of Usyk as he reiterated the 34-year-old's impressive abilities.

    "Again, like I said earlier, the fight with Usyk is a battle," he added. "It's not an easy fight, it's a tough fight. 

    "It's a 50-50 chance. [Actually], it's more like a 60-40 chance that you lose because he's in phenomenal shape, he's a freak of nature, and he's not normal. 

    "On top of all of that, he's a southpaw. It's awkward, it's coming from another way. You've got to have super conditioning and step to him. 

    "You've got to be able to punish him and knock him out, but you can't be boxing him from the outside. You've got to wear him down. He's slippery, he's moving, he's awkward. You've got to be in tip-top shape to beat a guy like that."

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