Ukrainian Oleksandr Usyk has retained his world heavyweight titles with a split decision win over Anthony Joshua on Saturday in a rematch in Saudi Arabia that was closer than last year’s first fight.
Both fighters held up the blue-and-yellow Ukrainian flag as the judges’ scores were read out at King Abdullah Sport City arena.
When he was declared the winner, Usyk hid his face behind the flag.
The 35-year-old Usyk kept his WBA, WBO and IBF belts six months after serving in the Ukrainian army as part of the country’s defence against Russia’s invasion.
During the bout, Joshua appeared much improved, but Usyk demonstrated his technical brilliance to triumph 115-113, 116-112, 113-115 on the scorecards.
After the fight, Joshua stormed out of the ring before returning and giving what was described as a bizarre speech to the crowd.
Anthony Joshua’s Outburst
Joshua, after returning to the ring following an altercation after dropping a split decision to Usyk, told his opponent: “I don’t care about strong, I am skilled, skills win boxing, you’re not strong, how did you beat me? How? I had character and determination.”
He then added: “If you knew my story, you’d understand the passion. I’m no amateur boxer from five years old, that was an elite prospect from a youth.
“I was going jail, I got bailed, then I trained my arse off. Because if I got sentenced, I wanted to be able to fight. I’m stealing this Usyk, sorry.
“It’s because the passion to get into this shit. This guy, to beat me, tonight maybe I could’ve done better. It shows the levels of hard work he must’ve had to put in.
“Please give him a round of applause as our heavyweight champion of the world. I’m not a 12-round fight, look at me, I’m a new breed of heavyweight.
“Heavyweights like Mike Tyson, Sonny Liston, Jack Dempsey, ‘You don’t throw combinations like Rocky Marciano!’ Because I ain’t 14 stone, that’s why, I’m 18 stone, that’s why, I’m heavy.
“It’s hard work, this guy is a phenomenal talent, we’re going to cheer for him three times. How many belts you got now bro, five? Hooray. I was studying Ukraine and their champions from your amazing country.
“I’ve never been there, but at the same time, what’s happening there, I don’t know what’s happening. It’s not nice, I’ve seen it in Lomachenko’s second fight. There were issues, civil war.
“Vitali Klitschko against Danny Williams, civil unrest. Usyk, as a champion, please raise your hand, under those circumstances you became a champion. Champ, champ.”
Frazer Clarke Blames AJ’s Team For Outburst
Anthony Joshua was ‘left out to dry by his team’ during post-fight outburst, says Frazer Clarke.
I’ll Beat Usyk, AJ In One Night Tyson Fury
Tyson Fury has labelled Oleksandr Usyk’s second win against Anthony Joshua as one of the ‘worst heavyweight title fights’ he has ever seen, declaring that he would beat both fighters in one night.
Usyk earned a split-decision win against Joshua in Saudi Arabia, retaining the WBA, WBO, IBF and IBO belts against the Briton, whom the Ukrainian dethroned last September with a unanimous-decision victory.
Fury has claimed to be retired, but has not yet relinquished the WBC heavyweight title, and the Briton hinted that he could return for a clash with Usyk to crown an undisputed heavyweight champion.
Usyk Calls Out Fury
Oleksandr Usyk has called on Tyson Fury to come out of retirement and maintains he will not fight again unless it is against the Briton.
The Ukrainian defended his world heavyweight titles with victory via split decision over Anthony Joshua in a rematch.
Usyk now only lacks the WBC title, held by Fury, with the 35-year-old eager to take on the ‘Gypsy King’ to become the undisputed world heavyweight champion.
Commentators see Usyk as representing hope as Ukraine continues the fight for freedom against Russia.