Oleksandr Usyk (20-0, 13 KOs) had a tougher time than in his first fight with Anthony Joshua (24-3, 22 KOs), but in the end the result was still the same, an Usyk win.
The former undisputed cruiserweight champion responded to getting shaken in Round 9 and finished strongly to take a split decision over Joshua in Saudi Arabia. Only American judge Glenn Feldman scored it for Joshua (115-113), whereas British judge Steve Gray and Ukrainian judge Viktor Fesechko both gave the fight to Usyk (115-113 and 116-112 respectively). Bloody Elbow had it 116-112 Usyk and didn’t believe Joshua had a case for a win.
One noticeable change from the first fight was Joshua’s commitment to attacking Usyk’s body, which was consistently his best offensive success. Usyk wasn’t terribly aggressive or active early but was able to land his counters and sting AJ with plenty of up-jabs and straight lefts. Joshua took a couple of the early rounds before Usyk got into a rhythm, but Joshua really poured on the punishment on Usyk with a barrage of body blows and power punches upstairs in the 9th round. It looked like Joshua’s “go for broke” moment but he could not knock Usyk down or out. That lit a fire under Usyk and he sensed that with Joshua fatiguing, his massive onslaught of punches would have Joshua in trouble. Joshua was hurt numerous times from Rounds 10-12 and his legs were more upright.
To his credit, Joshua fired back with some hard single shots including a right hand that had Usyk stunned in the 10th, but his moments were singular and Usyk had the better offensive success as the fight progressed. For a fight with such little clinching and physicality, Joshua was hanging on for dear life late on.
It’s another career-defining win for Usyk, whom with Tyson Fury seemingly retired is the undisputed best in the division. Usyk did say in his post-fight interview that if he doesn’t fight Fury next, he’s not fighting at all. We’ll see if Fury’s retirement is just talk or if he can be coaxed into an absolutely monstrous fight.
Joshua was the one who actually spoke first after the decision, going on a rambling monologue about his life story before trying to put Usyk over as a worthy champion who’s doing all of this in the midst of war in his home country. It was bizarre and went on way too long. He fought a really good fight, but Usyk is an all-time great.
Watch the highlights, via DAZN below: