Oleksandr Usyk v Anthony Joshua 2: Briton loses world-title problem by break up choice

Oleksandr Usyk stays undefeated whereas Anthony Joshua suffers the third defeat of his profession

Anthony Joshua’s bid to recapture the unified heavyweight titles led to disappointment as Oleksandr Usyk produced a terrific efficiency to win by break up choice in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

In a conflict billed because the Rage on the Pink Sea, a spirited Joshua, 32, confirmed some aggressiveness and intent – an unlimited enchancment from their first combat – however couldn’t match the brilliance and ring savviness of the Ukrainian.

Two judges scored the combat 115-113 and 116-112 to Usyk, whereas a 3rd choose gave it 115-113 to the challenger. Whereas there have been some shut rounds, Usyk was the deserved winner.

On the finish of the combat, a livid Joshua – fairly bizarrely – picked up two of Usyk’s belts, dropped them on the ground and strode in direction of the dressing room, earlier than turning spherical and getting again into the ring to provide an impassioned speech.

“Usyk is one hell of a fighter. That’s just emotion,” he stated. “If you knew my story, you’d understand the passion. I’m not an amateur boxer. I was going to jail and I got bail and I started training.

“It exhibits the eagerness we put into this. For this man to beat me tonight, it exhibits the degrees of exhausting work he should have put in, so please give him a spherical of applause as heavyweight champion of world.

“They said that I’m not a 12-round fighter. I ain’t 14 stone, I’m 18 stone, I’m heavy. It’s hard work. This guy here is phenomenal.”

Joshua has now suffered back-to-back defeats towards Usyk, with the champion retaining the WBA (Tremendous), WBO and IBF titles he gained in London final September.

Usyk calls out Fury

Oleksandr Usyk helps Anthony Joshua to his feet
Usyk says he solely desires to combat Tyson Fury

Joshua had some success within the combat – and loved his greatest spherical within the ninth, charging Usyk down and unloading a flurry of punches, paying homage to the AJ of outdated.

However such is the brilliance of Usyk, he got here again preventing within the tenth spherical and was touchdown clear blow after blow. Usyk landed a five-punch mixture, and Joshua turned a sitting duck.

Joshua fatigued and Usyk – who just some months in the past was defending his nation towards the Russian invasion – took full benefit within the championship rounds.

“I devote this victory to my family, my country, my team, to all the military defending this country – thank you so much,” he stated, earlier than calling out WBC champion Tyson Fury.

“I’m sure that Tyson Fury is not retired yet. I’m convinced he wants to fight me. I want to fight him. If I’m not fighting Fury, I’m not fighting at all.

“Solely God is aware of whether or not I’ll combat him or not however all these gents right here round me, my staff, they will assist me.”

Fury recently announced his retirement but has until 26 August to decide on whether he will relinquish the belt.

The Gypsy King took to social media to criticise both fighters, and may not yet be done with boxing. The carrot of a clash with Usyk – one which would certainly cement the winner’s legacy as an all-time great – is dangling.

Usyk shines in Jeddah

The boxers made their ring walks at approximately 01:00 local time. Even in those early hours, there were temperatures of 30C, as approximately 12,000 fans filled out the air-conditioned King Abdullah Sport City Arena.

A crowd that was somewhat subdued for most of the night came alive as Joshua – the challenger – marched to the ring first. Jeers echoed around the arena as Usyk followed. It was clear who the fan favourite was.

Heading into the fight, there were questions as to how well Joshua and new trainer Robert Garcia had gelled, having only started working together this year.

The opening few rounds were close, but ones which Usyk most likely edged. After three rounds, American Garcia told Joshua he had won every round.

The champion was given time to recover in the fifth round after a Joshua low blow had him wincing. A two-punch combination to Joshua’s midriff and head, from range, was the pick of the sixth round.

As the fight progressed, Usyk’s movement started to dictate the fight. He landed a counter left in the seventh, before Joshua unloaded two smart shots to the body in the eight.

Then came the two of the most memorable rounds, out of the 24 across two bouts, between the two fighters. Joshua gave it everything in the ninth, and appeared to have Usyk in a spot of bother. Perhaps it was a ploy from Usyk to tire Joshua out. In the 10th, he broke Joshua’s resolve – and went on to take the fight.

Did Joshua reply his critics?

Anthony Joshua speaks to the crowd
Joshua was upset after the choice and spoke on to the gang

Before the fight, Joshua and promoter Eddie Hearn insisted defeat would not spell retirement but described the bout as must-win.

After a third loss in five bouts, Joshua now has to resurrect his career. But he can take positives from his performance. His reputation and legacy have been dealt a blow, but perhaps not as heavy as many predicted.

In June 2019, Joshua suffered a shocking knockout defeat by Andy Ruiz Jr in New York. Six months later, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Joshua recaptured his heavyweight crown with a disciplined points win.

Beating Usyk, however, was a totally different challenge. Joshua was in against a pound-for-pound star – the trickiest of southpaws. And he was facing a patriotic Ukrainian determined to bring some much-needed joy to a nation torn apart through war.

Boxing fans wanted to see some heart and fight from Joshua. In the 10th round, when under attack from Usyk, he barked “come on” at his opponent.

Such is the beast of heavyweight boxing and the level of fame bestowed on Joshua, there will always be critics. This time, though, perhaps not for his performance, but for his post-fight interview.

Banner Image Reading Around the BBC - BlueFooter - Blue