Oleksandr Usyk bests Anthony Joshua by split decision, calls out Tyson Fury

Oleksandr Usyk retained his three heavyweight titles with a split-decision victory over Anthony Joshua in a rematch on Saturday in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

One choose scored the bout for Joshua, 115-113, however was overruled by tallies of 115-113 and 116-112 in favor of Usyk, who defeated Joshua for a second time.

Joshua, who entered the ring as champion when the 2 met in September in London, fared much better within the return bout beneath the steerage of latest coach Robert Garcia, but it surely nonetheless wasn’t sufficient.

After the choice was introduced, Joshua (24-3, 20 KOs) grabbed the microphone and urged the group to cheer on Usyk (20-0, 13 KOs) with “Hip-Hip Hooray!”

“This guy here is a phenomenal talent,” Joshua stated.

Usyk, 35, stored his WBA, WBO and IBF belts with a second victory over Joshua and is on a collision course with Tyson Fury — who holds the WBC belt — for the undisputed heavyweight championship.

“I’m sure that Tyson Fury is not retired yet,” stated Usyk, ESPN’s No. 2 heavyweight and No. 6 pound-for-pound boxer. “I’m sure. I’m convinced he wants to fight me. I want to fight him. And if I’m not fighting Tyson Fury, I’m not fighting at all.”

The proposed Usyk-Fury matchup, one the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has eyed for December, is among the greatest in all of boxing. Fury claimed he was retired following an April victory over Dillian Whyte, solely to announce a comeback earlier this month. After talks with Derek Chisora stalled, Fury reversed course and insisted once more that he was retired.

“I will annihilate both of them on the same night,” Fury stated in a video posted on Instagram after Usyk’s victory Saturday. “Get your f—ing checkbook out because ‘The Gypsy King’ is here to stay forever!”

Fury’s promoter, Top Rank chairman Bob Arum, informed ESPN’s Mark Kriegel in San Diego that he believes the purse split must be 50-50.

“Won’t be a hard fight to make,” Arum stated. “I spoke to [Usyk’s manager] Egis [Klimas] to congratulate him. We should be able to put it together. The only question is where to put it.”

While Fury waffled on his future, Usyk was getting ready for the rematch with Joshua in Dubai the United Arab Emirates after he left war-torn Ukraine together with his spouse and three youngsters. Usyk initially joined a territory protection battalion when Russia invaded Ukraine in February.

In the lead-up, Usyk stated he was “motivated by the people of Ukraine who are struggling hard to defend our independence” and ensured the Joshua struggle was accessible on free-to-air TV again residence.

“I want to thank everyone who prayed for me,” stated Usyk, the previous undisputed cruiserweight champion. “I dedicate this victory to my country, to my family, to my team … to all military members defending the country.”

In Saturday’s struggle, Usyk was pressured to outlive maybe probably the most adversarial second of his skilled profession. Joshua, who focused on the physique assault all struggle, lastly broke via in Round 9, hurting Usyk with a bundle of pictures.

The champion was on unsteady legs as Joshua bullied him across the ring and unloaded punches to the pinnacle and midsection. Joshua threw 67 punches within the ninth and related on 28, double his struggle excessive.

But earlier than he might really capitalize, Usyk turned the tables and responded together with his greatest spherical of the struggle. Now, it was Joshua who was reeling as Usyk unleashed energy punches from all angles. A pointy Joshua counter proper hand momentarily halted Usyk, however Usyk stormed again with extra of the identical.

In all, Usyk related on 39 of 95 punches in Round 10, each struggle highs.

“This is already history,” stated Usyk, who like Joshua captured gold on the 2012 Olympics. “Many generations [are] going to watch this fight, especially the round where someone tried to beat me hard.”

Usyk closed sturdy with a dominant eleventh spherical, when his motion befuddled the larger Joshua, and a ferocious Round 12, when Joshua went for broke in an try to attain the knockout.

“What a performance from Usyk,” stated promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing. “In the ninth round I ran over and thought we had it. The 10th round was one of the best I’ve seen to turn a fight around. What he did in the 10th, 11th and 12th was incredible. And that was the difference tonight. … He’s just too good, and there’s no shame in it [for Joshua].”

Joshua, a 32-year-old from England, was making an attempt to turn into a three-time heavyweight champion. He was additionally seeking to regain his three titles in a rematch in Saudi Arabia for a second time.

After he misplaced by TKO to Andy Ruiz Jr. in June 2019 — ESPN’s Upset of the Year — Joshua reclaimed the unified championship with a call within the rematch six months later. But towards Usyk this time round, Joshua wasn’t in a position to precise revenge.

Still, Joshua, who appeared on the verge of being stopped in Round 12 of the primary assembly, carried out a lot better and can absolutely transfer on to loads of marquee fights, with or with no belt. He is ESPN’s No. 4-ranked heavyweight.

Usyk, in the meantime, has introduced a puzzle that no opponent has come near fixing, whether or not it is at cruiserweight or heavyweight. Despite conceding 24 kilos in weight to Joshua — and one other three inches in top — Usyk’s glorious footwork, southpaw jab and boxing acumen dominated the day.

So far, Usyk has proved peerless within the ring, but when there’s one man who might be favored to beat him, it is “The Gypsy King” in a battle for all of the marbles.

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