OLEKSANDR USYK delivered a superb performance as he defeated British superstar Anthony Joshua in a marvelous heavyweight battle at the Tottenham stadium in London on Saturday (September 25).
Usyk found his rhythm from the first round. He got Joshua’s attention early with a flush southpaw left cross, a punch that proved to be a nightmare for the Briton for the rest of the evening. The Ukrainian continued to set up that shot, landing it clean while Joshua’s cross was only glancing.
The second round was perhaps more inconclusive, Joshua now jabbed out his left, just to keep Usyk at range rather than catch him with anything telling. Usyk however kept his lead right flashing out, before clipping Joshua with the left again and settling more as he stood in the pocket as the round progressed.
Usyk hurt Joshua in the third. Another left, fired through to Anthony’s chin, rocked the Briton and Joshua hastily grabbed Usyk in a clinch.
In the fifth round Joshua finally found some of the big punches he needed, smacking Usyk to the head and then the body with his right, putting real intent behind those hits. When Joshua could get forward, he harried the Ukrainian, banging home a counter right and reaching for his persecutor with a long right hook.
But in the seventh, Usyk again mesmerised him. Timing his shots better, he was throwing more and landing more. His rear hand left remained a constant threat, another heavy strike sent Joshua stumbling backwards. For the eighth round Joshua came back better, edging forward behind his cross, sinking that blow into Usyk’s body where he could. But he was not turning the momentum of the contest his way.
When they fought for position with their jabs, it was Usyk’s right hand lead that connected with regularity just jolting Joshua and forcing him back.
Damage was swelling up under Joshua’s right eye as he failed to pin his tormentor down. Going into the final two rounds, Joshua need to unearth something big. But instead it was Usyk who put in the final flourish. He won the 11th round well, throwing the back hand to the body and then doubling that same left to the head. He continued to move round Joshua and slam in those firm jabs. He could have coasted through the final round, but instead he stepped to Joshua, hammering in hard headshots, knocking him into the ropes and punishing the Briton furiously in the final 10 seconds of the fight.
The wait for the scores was long as the 67,000 in attendance, gradually quietened through the course of these 12 rounds, waited for the inevitable. Usyk deserved the decision thoroughly and all three judges scored for him, Viktor Fesecko had it 117-112, Steve Weisfeld 116-112 and Howard Foster 115-113. Usyk won the WBO, WBA and IBF heavyweight belts from Joshua and the sport has a new star. The name Oleksandr Usyk might not have been familiar before this fight. It will be now.