Oleksandr Usyk turned in a sublime performance as he wrenched the WBA ‘Super’, IBF, WBO and IBO heavyweight titles from the waist of Anthony Joshua with a pulsating points win at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Saturday.
Joshua was making the second defence of the belts that he regained in a revenge points win over Andy Ruiz Jr back in December 2019, while Usyk was having only his third fight at heavyweight after cleaning out the cruiserweight division as undisputed champion. He had previously defeated Chazz Witherspoon and Derek Chisora at the new weight class.
After some stirring national anthems and introductions, it was down to business, and Usyk was quickly settling in, landing a rapid left hook in the opener and boxing high on his toes as he landed with quick and accurate shots.
Joshua established his jab, especially to the body in round two, but Usyk remained an elusive target.
The Ukrainian continued his good work in the third, timing Joshua with a superb left hand to the chin, and troubling the Brit with his speed.
The fourth was a cagier affair, but much better for the champion, who pierced Usyk’s guard with power shots.
The fifth was a give and take session, with Joshua’s power shots seemingly sapping some energy from the challenger, who remained calm and measured in his attacks.
Usyk was slightly on the retreat in the sixth, and a couple of right hands nailed him as his confidence wained.
Back he came though, making the unified champion stumble from a big left hand in the seventh, but Joshua kept his cool and imposed his strength, inching closer and letting go of shots to the body in round eight.
After a much quieter ninth, the tenth saw a cut and severe swelling on Joshua’s right eye, and that gave Usyk further confidence, as he poured forward in a bid to secure a famous win.
It was all to play for in the final frame for Usyk, as he looked ahead on the cards, and he had Joshua out on his feet with seconds to go, but ran out of time to get the job done.
The contest was left in the hands of the judges, and scores of 117-112, 116-112 and 115-113 confirmed Usyk a worthy winner.
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Joshua does have a rematch clause.
Okolie knocks out Prasovic
Lawrence Okolie made a successful first defence of his WBO cruiserweight title with a routine third round knockout of the overwhelmed Dilan Prasovic.
A counter right hand left the visitor on unsteady legs in the second, and he was forced to take refuge on the canvas. The writing was on the wall though, and a whipping left hook to the body put Prasovic down for the full count.
Smith blasts out Castillo
Callum Smith made a dream start to life at light heavyweight and under new trainer Buddy McGirt, as he halted Lenin Castillo inside two rounds.
Castillo had gone the distance with WBA champion, Dmitry Bivol and respected contender Marcus Browne, but he was no match for Smith, who sealed victory with a devastating one punch knockout.
A massive overhand right crumpled Castollo, whose legs were shaking while he was on the floor, and the fight was over.
Hatton fortunate against Martinez
Campbell Hatton avoided an upset, as his first step-up to six round level ended in a single point win against Sonni Martinez.
It looked as though Hatton had slipped to defeat, as Martinez connected with regularity, but the referee saw otherwise, and scored Hatton a 58-57 winner.
Marku overcomes Prodan
Florian Marku claimed the IBF International welterweight title, as he took a split decision won over Maxim Prodan.
The scores were lopsided, with one judge somehow adjudging Prodan a 99-91 winner, but scores of 97-93 and 96-94 saw Marku become the new champion.
Title action came early on, and it was Christopher Ousley that took thee vacant WBA Intercontinental Middleweight crown with a points win over Khasan Baysangurov.