While he had the home-field advantage, Anthony Joshua could not get the job done against former cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk.
Inside Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, Joshua was outclassed by Usyk. The latter is now the WBA, IBF, WBO, and IBO Heavyweight Champion after beating Joshua via unanimous decision (117-112, 116-112, 115-113). Usyk joins Evander Holyfield and David Haye as the only boxers to unify the cruiserweight world titles and become a heavyweight champion.
"The fight went exactly the way I expected it to go," Usyk stated after the fight. (h/t ESPN) "There were times when Anthony pushed me hard, but nothing special. 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."
The atmosphere was electric when the fighters made their entrances. Joshua came out to "No Easy Way Out" which could describe the fight in a nutshell. A shocked crowd could only watch as the Ukrainian took it to Joshua.
Both fighters started off hot right away, feeding off of the crowd. Usyk would take over with a big left, but Joshua landed jabs of his own. Instead of countering Usyk's southpaw style and not fainting, however, Joshua would fall victim to it. Usyk would not stop moving in the first three rounds, changing levels with each shot he landed. His head and body shots were calculating and efficient.
As the fight continued, it was clear that Usyk would not back down. He would move towards Joshua, landing key combinations while looking loose. Usyk landed a straight left, and in the fourth, Usyk landed one that had Joshua off balance. The fourth was a big win for Usyk, as Joshua could not fight back.
It wasn't until round five where Joshua looked to have adjusted his game. He didn't back away, hitting body shots and a right to the face. Round six felt like a classic Joshua performance, as he was stalking Usyk. Joshua landed jabs and head shots, utilizing his right the way many expected him to hit it. Usyk would storm back in the seventh, however, and landed combination shots that almost took Joshua down again. Joshua would rebound in round eight, landing rights and jabs.
It may have been too late to stick to the basics, however, based on the scorecards.
Round nine got interesting, as both landed key combination shots as well as jabs. Joshua would push Usyk back in round ten, but Usyk's lefts were getting past the defense of Joshua. Both fighters would tee off to try and see who wanted it more.
Usyk was all over Joshua in round eleven, as he landed combination shots to the body and the head. His head movement was also impeccable as Joshua attempted to go for multiple power shots, but to no avail. Usyk would then land double left hands to the face of Joshua in the last round. While Joshua tried to battle back, he wasn't fully balanced. With Joshua by the corner, Usyk was teeing off until the final bell, almost securing the fight another way.
According to CompuBox, Usyk landed 148 punches, the most by any Joshua opponent. 96 of those shots were power punches, and he landed 20+ punches in two rounds.
As far as what is next for Joshua, he is farther away from a unified heavyweight title opportunity. He agreed in principle to face Tyson Fury for heavyweight gold before Deontay Wilder's team nixed those plans. Joshua has a rematch clause against Usyk, something Eddie Hearn is looking to put into play.
"The fighter in AJ is already talking about, 'I'll win the rematch.' Usyk was the deserved winner... He's (Joshua) got to make changes in the rematch. He will want to go straight back into that rematch," Hearn stated after the fight.