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Usyk beats Joshua, retains heavyweight boxing belts

Ukraine’s Oleksandr Usyk crushed the dream of Britain’s Anthony Joshua during a surprise split decision victory and kept his WBA, WBO, IBF, and IBO world heavyweight boxing belts.

The fight in Saudi Arabia’s Jeddah on Sunday was a replay of the one fought in London in September that Usyk won on a unanimous decision to conquer the titles from Joshua, however, the Ukrainian fought with more intensity and emotion as he had hungry for glory.

The pressure was on more than ever as Usyk was representing his country fighting for its existence since Russia’s invasion in February, whereas Joshua was battling for his boxing future.

Usyk appeared well ahead of Joshua as the final bell rang at the King Abdullah Sports town Arena. however, the American judge came to the verdict of the fight 115-113 to Joshua, along with the British and Ukrainian judges deciding 115-113 and 116-112 to the champion.

When the ring announcer called the winning words, “and still”, an emotional Usyk raised his left arm and dragged the Ukrainian flag over his face.

“I devote this victory to my country, to my family, to my team, to all the military defending this country,” the 35-year-old said through a translator. “Thank you very, very much.”

The second win against Joshua helped Usyk to extend his winning streak as he remains undefeated in straight 20 fights while Joshua faced the third loss of his professional career. Out of Joshua’s three losses, one loss came against the Mexican Andy Ruiz, and suffered back-to-back losses to the Ukrainian.

Joshua was frustrated with the decision and out of rage, he took two of the belts, dropping them on the canvas as he left the ring and headed for the dressing room. But he turned around and stepped back in the ring, took the microphone, and address the crowd.

“Usyk is one hell of a fighter. That’s just emotion,” he declared.

“For this guy to beat me tonight, maybe I could have done better but it shows the levels of hard work he must have put in, so please give him a round of applause as our heavyweight champion of the world.

“I was studying Ukraine and all the champions from your amazing country. I’ve never been there. What’s happening there, I don’t know but it’s not nice … under those circumstances, he’s managed to become champion.”

After a tough and rough five-month coaching camp, Usyk entered the arena with a blue-and-yellow attire carrying the words “Colours of Freedom” and supported by words of encouragement from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in his nightly video address to the nation.

“We stick together,” the president said. “We help each other. We restore what was destroyed. We fight for all our people. And we cheer for those who represent Ukraine, today — definitely for Usyk, our guy!”

The opening round was unsettled, with Joshua’s corner advising him to tweak his tempo and follow up with his training practices, and therefore the bout continued with Usyk perpetually moving and exploiting his jab and body shots to sensible effect. 9th Round raised the tempo dramatically, with Joshua enjoying his best round before Usyk came back furiously in the 10th.

Joshua was in dire need of a knockout as the fight headed toward the last rounds. The Olympic gold medalist was unable to counter the jabs and hard blows with an agile and tricky Usyk approach. At the final bell, the duo embraced, with the Ukrainian sinking to his knees. It was a historic fight for Usyk. Usyk also claimed the Ring Magazine belt along with WBA, WBO, IBF, and IBO world heavyweight with the win.

“Many generations are going to watch this fight, especially the round when someone tried to beat me hard. But I stood up to it and turned it differently,” he said.

Usyk wishes to fight the Gypsy Kind, Tyson Fury who claims that he has retired from professional boxing and would be vacating the WBC title. That is the only fight Usyk will be looking for which will make him the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world.

When asked about Fury, Usyk said: “I am sure Tyson Fury is not retired yet. I am sure Tyson Fury wants to fight me. If I’m not fighting Tyson Fury, I’m not fighting at all.”


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