Oleksander Usyk came out the better man on August 20th during the rematch with Anthony Joshua, with a split decision of 115-113, 115-113 and 116-112.
Although much of the press are reporting that this was a one-sided victory to Usyk, the truth is that the match was very close. In fact, the score was more in favor of Joshua after the 9th round but where Usyk did excel, was in demonstrating his ability to recover, to adjust and to bring out what he needs to win.
In Round 9, Joshua sent Usyk a barrage of punches moving him around the ring to stun the champion multiple times from bell to bell.
Usyk was able to endure this and stay on his feet. On the bell for the 10th round, Usyk did even better than just stay on his feet; he returned with a vengeance to show true championship qualities that would carry him through for the remaining rounds and give him the points needed to win the fight.
From Round 10, Usyk increased his punch output considerably, giving Joshua many heavy blows multiple times. Joshua’s style then moved back to his default, losing his lower stance and fighting very straight, with slower legs allowing Usyk to take over and manage him as he knew how.
Prior to this, Joshua was showing great promise. He came in with a different strategy to the first fight with Usyk in September ’21. He lowered his stance, he alternated his footwork, he showed more aggression, and he showed that he was able to adjust to Usyk’s changing South Paw style. Joshua was able to avoid Usyk’s tricks and setups in the opening rounds and that stopped Usyk from getting traction early as he maintained his constant lateral movement. If Joshua had increased his offensive at the same time, it surely would have applied more pressure on Usyk and may have altered the result.
This culminated in the explosive 9th round that caught Usyk by surprise, but it may not have been enough. Had Joshua followed through during the 9th, or had he exploded earlier, we may have had a different outcome and the one that Joshua’s team desired.
But at the end of the day, the truth remains that Usyk was the better fighter on the day. And that’s what the judges see and score on.
Usyk is now pound for pound, the dominant heavyweight in the world. Joshua’s loss to such a champion is by no means any shame. The reign of any champion eventually comes to an end as we have seen with so many greats before that include Tyson, Ali etc. The fact is that Joshua has been an incredible champion in his time and showed great tenacity and staying power himself to maintain the championship in the way that he has. His defeat of Dillian Whyte and the battle with Wladmir Klitchko very clearly stamp his championship credentials.
The question now is what’s next for Usyk. As any champion would, he would now be interested in moving to the next level and conquering the WBC title that is currently held by Tyson Fury.
When asked this, he responded appropriately.
“I’m sure that Tyson Fury is not retired yet,” Usyk said during his post-fight interview. “I’m convinced that Tyson wants to fight me and I want to fight him. If I’m not fighting him, I’m not fighting at all. “
As to the question of whether or not Usyk can win against Fury, he responded with …
“Only God knows whether I will or not.”
That will remain to be seen, but for now, Usyk remains, by his own admission, the most feared Heavyweight in the world.