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  • Billy Wooldridge

Oleksandr Usyk masterclass outshines Anthony Joshua under the lights of North London

Updated: Oct 8, 2021

Anthony Joshua’s reign as unified heavyweight champion of the world was ended in convincing fashion as Oleksandr Usyk outclassed the Brit under the lights of the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Saturday night.

A unanimous decision of 117-112, 116-112 and 115-113 was read out as an exhausted Joshua excepted his defeat whilst the undefeated Ukrainian broke down into tears when presented with his belts.

In what seemed on paper a much easier fight then the previously proposed undisputed battle with Tyson Fury, AJ was unable to find his devastating right hand which has treated him so well over his career.

The skill and movement of Usyk proved too much for Joshua who only just managed to stay on his feet in the last few seconds of round 12 when the southpaw tried to end the evening with an unexpected knockout.

Joshua, whose right eye began to swell up in the final third of the fight declared that “I couldn’t see in the ninth round” but promised that he would “one hundred percent” be taking a rematch with Usyk, which Eddie Hearn has recently spoken about taken place in either “February or March of next year.

Tactical genius from Usyk

Throughout the whole fight, Joshua was the fighter who tried to control the ring and keep Usyk moving, however the Ukrainian’s stamina was too much for AJ, who was continuously caught by the jab of Usyk.

In Round three the first big shot was landed as Usyk caught Joshua with an overhand left and pilled the pressure on the Englishman before the bell went. The first sign of danger for Joshua set the tone for the fourth and fifth rounds as AJ continued to wait for the chance to throw his big right hand, but hardly had an opportunity to show it as Usyk rarely stopped, preventing Joshua from picking out his shot.

Round six was more of the same, with both boxers continuing to circle around each other in the centre, however there was a sense of tiring from Usyk who was less active than the earlier rounds. Towards the end of the round Joshua finally landed a big right, however Usyk remained on his feet and saw the round out.

In the seventh Usyk responded brilliantly, catching Joshua was a left hook, knocking the Brit off balance who was able to stay on his week and see out the rest of the round.

In the ninth round, the first blood was drawn as Joshua was caught with a straight right as he tried and failed to close the gap on Usyk.

The final three rounds where all controlled by Usyk who continued to show his pure skill by evading the Joshua pressure and catching him with shots every now and again to sneak all the remaining rounds.

By the 12th, Joshua needed a knockout to retain his belts, but the weary figure of AJ was unable to give his all as he was left dazed and stumbling on the ropes leaving the bell to save him from another knockout loss, but not from the chance of winning the fight in the 12th.

What next for AJ?

The proposed all British heavyweight battle between Joshua and Fury seems a universe away after the Brits loss last night, however Joshua declared that “I’ll still fight Tyson Fury without the belts”.

The most likely outcome however seems to be a rematch with Usyk as there is a rematch clause which AJ is expected to exercise.

But the main question will be how Joshua can beat Usyk in the rematch, as the Ukrainian showed he was levels above the two-time champion under the lights on Saturday night.

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