The new unified heavyweight champion(IBF, WBA, WBO) of the world, Oleksander Usyk( 19-0, 13 KOs), showed why he is one of the best in the heavyweight division and maybe one of the pound-for-pound best in boxing after he defeated Anthony Joshua(24-2, 21 KOs) by unanimous decision at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London on Saturday night.
Usyk, a former undisputed champion at cruiserweight, was fighting at heavyweight for the third time in his career. The Ukrainian native first two fights in the heavyweight division were not impressive, but Saturday night was different.
The 34-year-old Usyk showcased his prolific boxing skills against Joshua, which led to him hurting Joshua multiple times, including in the 12th and final round. Usyk had Joshua in trouble against the ropes before the final bell rang.
All three judges(117-112, 116-112, 115-113) had it for one of the newest kings in the heavyweight division.
While Usyk appeared to put on an excellent performance in London, he thinks he could have done better.
“There was times when Anthony pushed me hard but nothing special,” Usyk said. “I had no objective to knock him out. My corner pushed me not to do that. You didn’t see the best Usyk. I can be much better.”
This loss was a disappointment for Joshua, who had a deal to face WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury, which could have made him a lot of money. At times, Joshua did not seem sure of himself and appeared befuddled by Usyk.
Joshua does have a rematch clause, and it should be interesting to see if he exercises it right away. However, it might be in his best interest to get a few confidence-building fights and then go after Usyk down the line. At 31, Joshua still could use some seasoning, so maybe just getting him activity against lower-ranked heavyweights could be the way to go.
Now, we’ll see what happens with Fury-Wilder III. Maybe, the winner of that fights Usyk for supremacy in the heavyweight division.
Photo: Mark Robinson/Matchroom Boxing