A follow-up act was the last thing on Oleksandr Usyk’s after accomplishing his lifelong dream.
Months of preparation and sacrifice was applied to Ukraine’s Usyk (19-0, 13KOs) soundly outpointing two-time unified heavyweight titlist Anthony Joshua over twelve rounds Saturday evening at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London. The unbeaten former World cruiserweight king boxed and moved effectively, along with plenty of power shots for good measure to become a two-division and reigning WBA/IBF/WBO/IBO heavyweight titlist.
Among the discussed topics in the immediate aftermath was doing it all again with England’s Joshua (24-2, 22KOs), who plans to invoke the rematch clause in their contract. That part did not seem to be of any concern to the evening’s big winner.
“I’m not thinking about a rematch right now,” Usyk stated during his post-fight interview following the Sky Sports Box Office main event. “I’ve been working so hard since January to prepare for this fight.”
The incredible feat comes three fights into Usyk’s heavyweight tour after having laid claim as the undisputed and lineal cruiserweight champion. A 2012 Olympic Gold medalist for Ukraine, Usyk has essentially fought on the road since his first title win—a twelve-round, unanimous decision over then-unbeaten Krzysztof Glowacki in September 2016 to win the WBO cruiserweight title in Gdansk, Poland.
Of his seven cruiserweight title fights, Usyk spent six in his opponent’s home country and just one on neutral ground—a December 2016 ninth-round knockout of Thabiso Mchunu in Inglewood, California. As was the case versus Glowacki, Usyk marched into enemy territory to dethrone unbeaten titlists Mairis Briedis in Latvia and Murat Gassiev in Russia to claim undisputed cruiserweight championship status.
An eighth-round knockout of former cruiserweight titlist Tony Bellew in November 2018 took place on the road in Manchester, England. Usyk then moved up to heavyweight, starting with an October 2019 knockout win over American fringe contender Chazz Witherspoon in Chicago. More than a year later came a hard-fought, twelve-round win over England’s Derek Chisora at Wembley’s SSE Arena followed by the title-lifting effort over Joshua in London.
All the while, Usyk has been forced to spend the time away from his wife and high school sweetheart, Catherine and their three children, Liza, Cyril and Mikhael. The win over Joshua came on Usyk’s 12th wedding anniversary, with plans of celebrating that occasion along with quality family time first and foremost on his mind.
“Today 12 years ago, my wife said yes. I am double happy,” noted Usyk. “I miss my children and watching them play. I want to go home and be with them.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox