Anthony Joshua’s defeat to Oleksandr Usyk final evening in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, was his third loss in his final 5 fights after a 22–0 begin. If Joshua can’t see the top of the street by now, he is likely to be asking for instructions quickly. And if this was it, and after the bout Joshua certain acted like a man who wished out, he’ll go down as probably the most disappointing three-loss fighter within the historical past of heavyweight boxing.
No person ever appeared extra like a boxer coming into the ring than Joshua, who stands 6-foot-6 with an 82-inch attain and an Adonis-like physique. He received a gold medal for England within the tremendous heavyweight division in entrance of the house followers on the 2012 Olympics in London. He acquired his first world belt as an expert in 2016 and stored enthralling combat followers in his homeland whereas beating relative nobodies preventing completely in his native UK. His profession peak so far got here when he survived a knockdown and KO’d 41-year-old former heavyweight champion, Wladimir Klitschko, at Wembley Stadium in April 2017. However whereas A.J. was a rock star at dwelling, the remainder of the boxing world started begging him to not duck American Deontay Wilder, who reportedly even agreed to fulfill Joshua within the ring at Wembley if that may make the title unification match occur.
However Joshua, now 32 years previous, by no means took the combat. Then in June 2019, in his first look exterior the UK and with the ducking accusations crescendoing, Joshua misplaced his belt and all profession momentum by getting KO’d by unheralded 25–1 underdog Andy Ruiz at Madison Sq. Backyard. Joshua regained the title in opposition to a cartoonishly bloated Ruiz months later, however the momentum has but to return.
He took on Usyk, a 35-year-old southpaw who had received gold within the heavyweight division on the London Olympics, for the primary time at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in England final September. In that bout, Usyk took Joshua’s title away by a lopsided unanimous determination.
For the rematch in Saudi Arabia, Joshua dumped longtime coach Robert McCracken for veteran coach Robert Garcia (recognized for coaching a steady of champs together with Mikey Garcia and Marcos Maidana). Oddsmakers put in Usyk as a heavy favourite regardless that he has taken breaks from coaching to combat for his native Ukraine in the true struggle happening again dwelling. (Sky Sports activities announcers made a number of references through the broadcast to how a lot the combat meant to Ukrainians again dwelling, together with one commentator’s pledge that wartime President “Volodymyr Zelenskyy shall be watching.” Usyk’s fellow fighter and countryman, legendary former champ Vasiliy Lomachenko, was proven within the Saudi enviornment crowd a number of instances. Lomachenko, who has additionally damaged coaching to combat Russian troops, is scheduled to fight Jamaine Ortiz in New York in October.)
Usyk confirmed no ailing results from the war-related pause in exercises. For the primary half of the combat he appeared a lot sharper than Joshua, whose jabs and looping rights appeared mistimed and poorly aimed.
However Joshua, who as regular seemed to be in excellent bodily situation, hurt Usyk with a huge left to the liver throughout an enormous physique assault halfway by Spherical 8, and once more in Spherical 10 when Usyk walked into a giant proper hand and stumbled backwards woozily. Alas, Joshua stopped pursuing the wounded Usyk as every of these rounds wound down, regardless that from early within the combat it appeared apparent Joshua’s solely probability at victory over the smaller, sooner, sharper champ was by way of knockout.
There have been some surprises after the ultimate bell. The primary got here when one decide someway scored it 115–113 for the challenger, although order was restored when ring announcer Michael Buffer disclosed that the opposite judges had it 115–113 and 116–112 for Usyk.
The following shock got here when Joshua, upon studying from Buffer he’d misplaced once more, grabbed two of Usyk’s championship belts and threw them into the gang and stormed out of the ring indignant. It appeared just like the traditionally genteel Joshua was about to brawl with spectators. However slightly than persevering with on to the locker room, it was as if Joshua realized this is likely to be the final time he’d ever have a crowd this large that cared about him, and panicked. He doubled again to the ring, acquired in Usyk’s face and yelled unsweet nothings, then grabbed Buffer’s microphone, minimize a NSFW professional wrestling–fashion promo that had one thing to do with how a lot boxing meant to him all these years and and the way exhausting boxing is for a giant man like him—”I ain’t fucking 14 stone! I’m 18 stone!” he mentioned. Sky Sports activities didn’t know the right way to cope with Joshua’s heel flip, and felt obliged to apologize to viewers for the loser’s unhappy antics.
Joshua finally gave up the microphone and let the usual post-fight interview with the winner begin. Requested about his plans, Usyk, whose profession file is now 20–0, mentioned Tyson Fury is the one combat he’d take.
“If i’m not preventing Tyson Fury, I’m not preventing in any respect,” he mentioned by an interpreter.
The commentator then requested the champ about his countrymen again dwelling, type of: “You assume they’re having a giant get together tonight?”
Usyk, a man who knew he’d received a combat however hadn’t but received a struggle, declined to reply the query.