This was the outcome always envisioned by Oleksandr Usyk from the moment he was in position to challenge for the heavyweight crown.
The unbeaten southpaw became a two-division champion following a twelve-round, unanimous decision win over England’s Anthony Joshua to claim the WBA/IBF/WBO/IBO heavyweight titles on the road at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London. It was a fight which Usyk (19-0, 13KOs) and his team pushed for more than a year after being named mandatory challenger to the WBO belt one fight into his heavyweight tour after abandoning his undisputed cruiserweight championship reign.
Oddsmakers had Joshua (24-2, 22KOs) as a healthy betting favorite, though with most of the action placed on Usyk in the battle of 2012 Olympic Gold medalists. Usyk did his part to upset the odds, boxing brilliantly and closing the fight strong to convince all three judges to score in his favor.
“It went exactly as I expected it to go,” Usyk said during his post-fight interview on Sky Sports Box Office. “There were a couple of moments when Anthony pushed me hard, but nothing that had me concerned.”
Usyk offered constant movement throughout the fight, jumping to a sizeable lead after four rounds. Joshua made key adjustments in the middle rounds, though still trying to box with a boxer rather than make proper use of his massive size advantage.
The later rounds showed Usyk at his most physically imposing, never more so than in the final thirty seconds of the fight. Joshua was rocked and pinned along the ropes, though not to the point of Usyk going in for the stoppage but rather to close the show in style. It proved effective in the end, winning by scores of 117-112, 116-112 and 115-113 to join Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko as the only boxers from Ukraine to win a portion of the heavyweight title.
With the win, Usyk is now viewed as second only to lineal/WBC champion Tyson Fury (30-0-1, 21KOs) among the world’s best heavyweights—a status he would love to change in the near future.
“You haven’t seen the best of Oleksandr Usyk,” insisted the newly crowned unified heavyweight titlist.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox