Classy performance rips titles away from Joshua
A stunning upset, and expected decision. You call it what you may, but in front of a heavily partisan crowd. Oleksandr Usyk joined the likes of Evander Holyfield and David Haye in becoming the only cruiserweights to step up to boxing's premier division and claim World Heavyweight glory.
Usyk handed Anthony Joshua his second defeat as a professional with the three scoring judges awarding scores of 117-112 116-112 & 115-113.
Much was made before the fight about Usyk perhaps being too small at heavyweight. That Joshua's physical advantages would be simply too much for the Ukranian to handle. However, it was the former Undisputed Heavyweight Chamipion who's reflexes, handspeed, footwork and all round boxing nous were simply too much for Joshua to handle.
Joshua did have his moments in the middle part of the fight. But instead of trying to impose himself, and the aforementioned physical advatanges upon Usyk, instead he elected to play pugilistic chess with his Ukranian counterpart, coming off second best at almost every turn. To the point that if the twelfth round had been thirty seconds longer, then in all probability, Joshua would have been stopped.
The outgoing champion cut a forlorn and battered figure. Electing to head straight back to his dressing room rather than give a post-fight interview.
The new champion however had this to say.
"This means a lot to me.
"The fight went exactly the way I expected it to go.
"There was 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.
"My trainer said no and to stick to my job.
"I've been working so hard since January. It took me some half a year.
"I miss my children. I want to go home. I'm not thinking about the rematch.
"You didn't see the best Usyk. I can be much better."
Joshua's promoter, Eddie Hearn has this to say..
"A devastating defeat.
"Usyk is very fit, he's got great feet, he threw a lot of punches.
"He was probably a bit more aggressive than anticipated.
"It was a tough defeat. He got beat by the better man on the night.
"It's going to be difficult because Usyk's confidence will be sky high.
"He [Joshua] will want to go straight back into the rematch.
"The desire is still there. He can do so much better in that fight."