Anthony Joshua Suffers Shock Loss to Oleksandr Usyk as Big Time Boxing Returns to UK After Pandemic

© REUTERSAction from Joshua-Usyk
Action from Joshua-Usyk - Sputnik International, 1920, 25.09.2021
Anthony Joshua had been hoping to fight Tyson Fury - who will defend his WBC belt against Deontay Wilder next month - to decide the undisputed champion. But on Saturday night he had to defend his WBA, IBF and WBO titles against unbeaten Ukrainian boxer Oleksandr Usyk.
Anthony Joshua lost his world heavyweight titles to Ukraine's Oleksandr Usyk, after being outboxed over 12 rounds.
Usyk, fighting out of a southpaw stance, bamboozled the champion and almost stopped him in the last round.
Joshua’s three titles were on the line in front of 67,000 fans at Tottenham Hotspur’s stadium in north London - the first time since the pandemic started that a boxing arena in the UK had been allowed to have a full house.
Prior to the fight, Joshua had tasted defeat only once in 25 professional bouts while Usyk, a former cruiserweight world champion, had been unbeaten in 18 fights.
Joshua, 31, had told a press conference on Thursday, 23 September: “If you told me I’m fighting King Kong I’d give it a go. I’m just going to work. He’s going to work. These are the best days of my life.”
But Usyk was the better boxer all night long, landing crisper punches and staying away from Joshua. In the third round he landed a heavy left on Joshua's jaw which would have floored many fighters.
Joshua won a few of the middle rounds but never looked like hurting Usyk and, despite the roars of a partisan crowd, faded badly in the last round.
Earlier this year Joshua agreed in principle to meet Tyson Fury in a fight to decide who is the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world but Fury, 33, was then threatened with legal action by Deontay Wilder, and has been forced to fight the American for the WBC title for a third time.
Joshua then opted to defend his WBO title against the mandatory challenger, the Ukrainian Usyk. His promoter, Eddie Hearn, said this week that the fighter had never considered relinquishing the belt.
© REUTERSAnthony Joshua and Oleksandr Usyk
Anthony Joshua and Oleksandr Usyk - Sputnik International, 1920, 25.09.2021
Anthony Joshua and Oleksandr Usyk
On the undercard Britain’s Lawrence Okolie defended his WBO cruiserweight title against Dilan Prasovic, from Montenegro, with a third round stoppage, and Callum Smith sent his opponent, Lenin Castillo, to hospital after a brutal second-round knockout.
London-based Florian Marku, nicknamed The Albanian King, beat Maxim Prodan, who is based in Italy, on the undercard.

At the press conference, Marku, a former kickboxer, told Prodan: “I’m going to destroy your face” and his opponent replied that his only chance of beating him would be if he had a Winchester rifle.

“I don’t need a gun. I have my two fists,” replied Marku.
Marku’s fighting did not quite match his talk but he won a split decision victory much to the delight of the big contingent of London-based Albanians in the crowd.
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