OLEKSANDR USYK again bettered Anthony Joshua when he won a lively and competitive 12-round decision to become the world heavyweight champion following Tyson Fury’s retirement.

Usyk beat Joshua in September 2021 over the same distance, unanimously so, but this time the scores were split. The judge who scored 115-113 in the Englishman’s favour clearly liked the eye-catching slugs from “AJ” but chose to neglect the quick and clever work of Usyk. And those wise and deft punches were the story of the fight.

Usyk was brilliant again. Regardless, the spirited 32-year-old Joshua was better than 11 months ago, but Usyk was the deserved winner.

At the end of the fight, a furious Joshua, believing he’d won, slammed two of Usyk’s belts on the floor. He then huffed and puffed his way towards the dressing room, before turning round and getting back into the ring to give an impassioned speech.

“Usyk is one hell of a fighter,” he roared “That’s just emotion… 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 shows the passion we put into this. For this guy to beat me tonight, it shows the levels of hard work he must have put in, so please give him a round of applause as heavyweight champion of the 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 against Usyk. Regardless, he remains box office.