SPORT / MISCELLANY
Usyk stuns Joshua
Ukrainian claims world heavyweight title
Published: Sep 26, 2021 05:18 PM
Oleksandr Usyk (left) fights Anthony Joshua on Saturday in London, England. Photo: AFP

Oleksandr Usyk (left) fights Anthony Joshua on Saturday in London, England. Photo: AFP

 

Oleksandr Usyk ended ­Anthony Joshua's reign as world heavyweight champion with a stunning unanimous points decision victory on Saturday, scuppering hopes of a "Battle of Britain" unification bout with fellow world titleholder 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 62,000 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 US 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 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."

Despite defeat, Joshua was backed to bounce back by Lennox Lewis, a former three-time world heavyweight champion.

"Gotta give it up to @usykaa on a great tactical performance tonight. For @anthonyjoshua it's not the end of the road, but u can't be so tentative or wait till the 8th round to turn it on. Learn from this and improve," Lennox tweeted.


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