At the time of writing it’s been nearly a week since Oleksandr Usyk shocked the boxing world and stripped Anthony Joshua of his WBA Super, WBO, and IBF world heavyweight titles. The dust has settled and people have drawn their conclusions of what this fight proved and what the future could hold for both men. Nobody really needs another opinion to be thrown into the void of the internet but without it this blog wouldn’t exist so here I am! This was an incredible fight, make no mistake about it. I know that you should never underestimate anyone in the heavyweight division, especially Usyk, but I didn’t see this happening. It wasn’t only a win for Usyk, it was a complete demolition job. This was the biggest fight of his career so far and without shadow of a doubt his biggest win. It adds to his already impressive CV of wins away from his native Ukraine, where he has already beaten Tony Bellew and Derek Chisora in England, Michael Hunter in the United States, Marco Huck in Germany, and won in hostile environments in Poland, Latvia, and Russia against Krzysztof Glowacki, Mairis Briedis, and Murat Gassiev respectively.
He lured AJ into his trap from the first bell and didn’t let him go. His jab was relentless and he didn’t take his foot off the gas for the full 12 rounds. It seemed like everyone was waiting for Usyk to tire a bit so it could lead to Joshua piling on the pressure but it didn’t happen. Usyk has one hell of an engine and an even stronger chin. Whenever he did find himself in spots of bother he clinched on and fought on the inside. Many thought before the fight that Joshua would be able to use his size to his advantage against someone who was 9 kilograms lighter and 3 inches shorter, but if anything Usyk did. He was much lighter on his feet and looked far quicker. Joshua did well in the sixth and seventh rounds when he won more success with shots to the body but he couldn’t keep it up and looked tired as the rounds went on, with Usyk pouring on the pressure and wobbling Joshua a few times. This isn’t the first time Joshua has lost his titles but this felt incredibly different to the first fight against Andy Ruiz Jr. Ruiz caught him on the temple which in turn ruined his equilibrium and balance for the rest of the fight before the stoppage, Usyk completely dominated the bout.
According to the point-scoring system CompuBox, a computerised point scoring system used for fights around the world, Usyk not only landed the more punches (148 landed compared to Joshua’s 123) he also landed a greater percentage of his punches (28% to Joshua’s 19.2%). Whilst AJ was technically the busier fighter throwing 641 punches compared to Usyk’s 529, Usyk made his count much more. Interestingly, Usyk’s 148 landing punches is the highest amount landed by any of AJ’s previous opponents and in round 12 Usyk landed 29 shots which is the most any opponent has landed on Joshua in a single round. Through Usyk’s incredibly impressive win it means he’s only the third person to hold world titles at cruiserweight and heavyweight, after Evander Holyfield and David Haye (not the worst company for the Ukrainian).
So what exactly does this all mean? In my opinion, it shows that Oleksandr Usyk really is that good and I honestly believe he will be a huge draw in the UK for years to come. Not only is he a great boxer he has a brilliant personality to go with it. Some people online are trying to use the result to shine Joshua in a negative light and I couldn’t disagree with them more. All you need to do is look at Usyk’s career path. You don’t become an amateur world champion, win a gold medal at the Olympics, unify the world titles at cruiserweight, make the jump to heavyweight, end up dethroning one of the division’s biggest names in your third fight at the weight, and do all of this while undefeated by accident. None of that is a fluke, in the same way that Joshua didn’t win Olympic gold and his heavyweight titles by being a naff boxer which people are still trying to argue in the big ol year of 2021. It’s proven that AJ can fight conservative and box well in his wins over the likes of Andy Ruiz, Joseph Parker, and to an extent Kubrat Pulev before the knockout as well as possessing terrifying power which stopped the likes of Dillian Whyte, Wladimir Klitschko, and Alexander Povetkin.
Fans will understandably be disappointed as it means an all British fight between AJ and the ‘Gypsy King’ Tyson Fury is off the cards for the foreseeable future with a rematch with Usyk in Kiev looking incredibly likely for Joshua. I really wanted that fight as did everyone else in the boxing world and we were so close to seeing it but Fury got tied up into a trilogy fight with Deontay Wilder. This isn’t to say that the fight won’t happen one day, Joshua may end up winning the rematch setting up a Fury showdown next summer. Fury-Joshua for all the belts at Wembley, July 2022 anyone? Even if not try and tell me after Saturday’s fight that you wouldn’t want to see a Fury-Usyk unification if it came to it. If Usyk wins the heavily rumoured rematch with AJ then that’s easily the two best heavyweights in the world fighting for full heavyweight unification (for what it’s worth I think Usyk would beat Wilder fairly comfortably, not a hater I just think he doesn’t have as strong a ring IQ as AJ and Usyk coped with him fine). This is all just hearsay mind and who knows what will end up happening next, plus we all now how quickly things could change in the division in the next few months (I’m looking at you potential Joe Joyce WBO mandatory).
Saturday night will be one of those performances that will be talked about for years to come. How the challenger came into the champion’s back garden with 67,000 in attendance watching on, rose hell, and left with the titles. You can’t underplay Usyk’s performance at all. Maybe Joshua wasn’t at his best on the night but in all honesty I’m not sure which plan would’ve stopped Usyk from getting the win. This could definitely be the start of something special in the heavyweight division. There’s a new king at the table and he won’t be going away anytime soon.