Reigning unified heavyweight champion of the world Oleksandr Usyk marked the first title defense against former titlist Anthony Joshua with a split decision victory at the King Abdullah Sports City in Jeddah on 20th August.
The rematch came nearly a year after their initial clash on 25th September last year at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London which ended in a massive upset for Anthony Joshua. The Briton lost the fight via unanimous decision, making Usyk the new WBA (Super), IBF, WBO, and IBO heavyweight champion and now, the Ukrainian has retained all the belts against Joshua.
The rematch saw a better approach from Joshua, who used a lower stance compared to the last encounter against Usyk. By maintaining lateral movements, AJ did not let Usyk get the upper hand in the first few rounds.
From the fourth round, ‘The Cat’ altered his technique as a means to counter Joshua’s strategy, Usyk started to circle around his opponent, landing combinations on him to keep on the pressure. The change of strategy had Joshua chasing after Usyk and missing connections. Joshua was not all blank in his arsenal, as he landed multiple hooks and uppercuts to Usyk’s body, slowing him down in the process.
Round 9 had opened up Joshua the golden opportunity to score a stoppage. As he continued to batter Usyk around the squared circle, with multiple chances for a knockout or TKO with the champion opening up his head. However, Usyk stayed steadfast on his feet and eventually recovered in the next three rounds.
From the 10th, Usyk switched gears into the offensive, landing heavy shots on Joshua and broke his lower stance, returning to his straight stance with slower leg movement as the champion took the helm of the fight from thereon, keeping himself on the upper hand for the remaining three rounds.
At the end of the 12 rounds, two judges scored the bout in favor of Usyk (115-113, 116-112) while the other scored it for Joshua (115-113), earning the Ukraining a split decision win and his first unified heavyweight championship title defense.
"I devote this victory to my country!" 💙💛
Oleksandr Usyk's emotional post-fight interview after a 'historic' victory 👊 pic.twitter.com/ekXXN4DjtW
— Sky Sports Boxing (@SkySportsBoxing) August 20, 2022
In the post fight interview, Usyk dedicated the win to his country, as well as called out Tyson Fury, the WBC champion who recently announced his retirement.
“I devote this victory to my country, to my family, to my team to the military who are defending my family thank you very, very much,” said Usyk, “This is already history, many generations are going to watch this fight, especially the round where someone tried to beat me hard but I withstood it and turned in a different way.”
“I’m sure that Tyson Fury is not retired yet. I’m convinced that Tyson wants to fight me and I want to fight him. If I’m not fighting him, I’m not fighting at all. Only God knows whether I will or not,” he added. [H/T Mirror Online]
Oleksandr Usyk vs. Anthony Joshua 2 FULL Fight Card Result:
- Oleksandr Usyk (c) defeats Anthony Joshua via split decision (115-113, 113-115, 116-112)
- Filip Hrgovic defeats Zhilei Zhang via unanimous decision (115-112, 115-112, 114-113)
- Callum Smith defeats Mathieu Bauderlique via fourth-round knockout
- Badou Jack defeats Richard Rivera via split decision (96-94, 94-96, 96-94)