The smart money saw Oleksandr Usyk getting the better of Anthony Joshua in their rematch battle, with the thinking being that AJ couldn't adjust, that the Ukrainian ring general would be too skilled and clever once again. All the heavyweight straps save for the WBC version were up for grabs in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and those pundits nailed it, as Usyk snagged a decision.
The tallies this time: Oleksandr Usyk got the nod by scores of 115-113, 116-112, but Glenn Feldman saw Joshua winning, 115-113.
— DAZN Boxing (@DAZNBoxing) August 20, 2022
No, Feldman wasn't right, but at least the correct man had his hand raised. And AJ didn't disgrace himself in the least, he did as well as his skill set allowed against a quite crafty and skilled practitioner.
AJ after the battle told Oleksandr Usyk he wanted to help Ukraine in their battle to defend from Russian invasion. He then gave Usyk big props. “It shows the levels of hard work he must've put in…Emeffer,” he said. “I'm not a 12 round fighter,” he said, basically saying that he was too big to effectively fight 12 rounds. He grabbed the mic, and did a self interview. He out-loud addressed Usyk and referenced the situation in Ukraine, but didn't go all in and lacerate Putin for his invasion.
Usyk then spoke: “I want to thank everyone who prayed for me. “I want to thank God for the hell he gave me today. My lord is Jesus Christ…Thank you thank you so much..inshallah.” He said yes, of course, when asked if he thought he won the fight. And does he want to fight Tyson Fury next, or is the Gypsy King really retired? “I'm sure he's not retired yet, I'm sure he wants to fight me..If I'm not fighting Tyson Fury, I'm not fighting at all.”
Eddie Hearn, AJ's promoter, said Usyk is pound for pound number one. “I felt Usyk won the fight (115-113),” Hearn admitted. “I'm not sure anyone can beat Oleksandr Usyk,” Hearn said, when asked about a Tyson Fury v Usyk battle.
The two men toed the line for the first time on Sept. 25, 2021, with the assembled in Tottenham seeing AJ drop straps via UD (117-112, 116-112, 115-113). The classy and jacked pugilist came to Saudi Arabia with a new trainer, in Robert Garcia, would he be able to flip the script in the sequel?
The Londoner Joshua (age 32) entered with a 24-2 (22 KOs) mark, while the 35 year old Oleksandr Usyk was 19-0, with 13 KOs.
The two time former unified heavyweight champ scaled in at 244 pounds, vs the 240 in their first battle. Usyk, a former cruiser champ, went to heavyweight in 2019. He was 221 last year and also 221 for this rematch. Both won Olympic gold, for the record.
In the first, Oleksandr Usyk was peppy, popping his jab. He knocked AJ's head back, and those connects looked very obvious. We saw co-trainer Angel Fernandez the chief man in between rounds for AJ, for the record.
In round two, AJ stood tall, but he did bend his knees at times. He came forward more in this round than the first, while Oleksandr Usyk moved laterally, left and right, his kinetic energy crackling. “Much better round,” Angel told AJ.
In the third, AJ got a crowd pop when he landed a right hand lead. Usyk did the same, he moved, bobbed, weaved, looked to be a hard target. A right from Usyk connected clean, then AJ went to his corner wand was told he was up 3-0.
In the fourth, Oleksandr Usyk tried more combos, he wanted to up the pressure. Joshua pumped the jab patiently, he was staying calm, not getting over excited. In the fifth, we saw AJ toss a power right, was he going to let go more in this round? AJ landed low with 1:42 remaining, got a little extra time. The rest of the round, Usyk seemed fine, his energy stayed high.
In the sixth, AJ closed the distance, or tried to. He'd paw the jab, though, too often. It worked in the middle passage, and we saw Usyk vary his hand speed, he was conserving energy. That was maybe the best round for AJ, his pressure worked. In the seventh, Usyk made AJ miss effectively, and he threw consistently but with an eye on his fuel tank.
In the eighth, the ref halted the clock to get the center ring wiped. The action looked the same, Oleksandr Usyk being the mover and AJ being patient, too patient probably. Then he bulled forward, tried to push Usyk back, and yes, it worked when he acted like the bigger, badder dude. Replay showed that AJ's left hook to the liver region connected and made the Ukrain man wince.
To the ninth, we saw Oleksandr Usyk more stationary, were body shots taking a toll? AJ's fans buzzed as the two got close and rumbled. AJ ran at Usyk, who backed up, and held. Was this a turning of the tide? Usyk came back to start the tenth with oomph. He was looking to land with pop, and suceeding. Both hands were clanging off AJ's head. Usyk went low, then high, then ate a right. The last minute was up for grabs. And Usyk's volume answered the matter, probably.
In the 11th, Oleksandr Usyk worked much harder, he'd conserved his energy so smartly.
In the 12th, Oleksandr Usyk once again worked harder, he didn't assume he was ahead. He was the better ring general, though a left hook from AJ did give his fans hope. And they hoped hard as we went to the cards..