Written by Tré Berry III | 09/25/2021
What we had all just witnessed from Tottenham Stadium was a masterclass performance, and the electricity felt throughout the entire crowd for their man pre-fight, and during the first few rounds slowly dissipated in a way that indicates the level in which the Ukrainian fought at tonight. Yes in some circles, the word “masterclass” is an overused term, but it is apropos for what had just been witnessed.
Former Cruiserweight Undisputed World Champion, and King 🇺🇦Oleksandr Usyk (19-0-0, 13KO), can now hold his chin high, as he slayed one of the Goliaths in the Heavyweight division – dominating, and at times bullying former Champion 🇬🇧Anthony “AJ” Joshua (24-2-0, 22KO) during the backend of the fight, his crowning achievement in becoming the new WBA/WBO/IBF Heavyweight Champion of the World in a history-making performance, that will surely go down in not just Heavyweight lore, but boxing as a whole, as one of the sports standout moments.
AS THE BOUT BETWEEN ANTHONY JOSHUA AND OLEKSANDR USYK GOT UNDERWAY
Interestingly enough, Usyk held the center of the ring and forced Joshua to fight his style of fight, in a reactive state as opposed to aggressively coming forward, and Usyk snuck in a couple of left crosses powerful to get the big Brit’s respect…which was HUGE in establishing the overall tone of the fight. Oleksandr utilized nonstop foot movement utilizing angles and dominated the first round with a consistent attack. Usyk’s brazen decision to work middle range against AJ paid off, and he was responsible in administering his offense, while maintaining defensive positioning.
Usyk down the stretch of the round began to get comfortable firing carefully placed combinations, and had Joshua seemingly out of sorts. Usyk stepped it up with the aggression, and with 30 seconds left in the third stanza, Usyk surprisingly managed to wobble Anthony Joshua with a big overhand left – a clear sign that he does have enough Heavyweight power to make a difference at this level. Joshua held well enough and got to the bell.
Joshua felt the sense of urgency starting round 4, and tried to speed up his footwork, but still found himself at a massive disadvantage to the speed that the Ukrainian is able to move on his feet, and it appears that the use of the feint was heavily freezing Joshua in his tracks. Joshua during the backend of the round started to react a little better to Oleksandr’s movement, but he still had problems landing the bone-crunching right hand, and Usyk began to shift left and right, sneaking the left cross in.
Joshua has a bad habit of dropping his hands when he is ducking back, and sideways out the way of incoming traffic, so Usyk used it to his advantage in round 5, feinting, then working off of the feint, knowing that the big man would be wide open for him to dart in, and get the left cross, and right hook off. Round 6 is where Usyk began to exclusively fight off of the backfoot, and Joshua probed heavily forward, and put together some of his best work. He landed the first clean right hand in that 6th, and began to touch Usyk routinely with the power towards the backhand of the stanza.
Would the momentum established by Joshua carry over to the 7th frame Early on, Usyk showed himself to be as stubborn as his skills are good, as he got right back to work, putting forth a massive round, nearly putting AJ down with a strong backhand left that forced Joshua to wobble back to the corner. Joshua held his position, and Usyk remained patient, not jumping in to get sloppy with his work, and continued to do what was getting him results.
Joshua did some impressive work in the 8th, commanding the presence in the ring, getting the right hand to fit in at a more routine clip, offsetting some of the movement with timing, and landing a few shovel hooks to the body. Olek had his moments, but you could feel a possible momentum shift on the horizon. The problem is, every time it felt like things would change heavily in AJ’s favor, Usyk came back in the following round with strong ring presence, and he did so once again in the 9th round, putting forth a boxing clinic in the trenches, and making Joshua miss often.
Joshua’s right eye began to swell up during the 9th round, while a cut was opened over Usyk’s right eye that began to bleed out. Up to this point in the fight, this was the most riveting round of the fight, with both attempting to win the war of attrition in the trenches, and both digging down to deliver quality shots upstairs, holding their own in a pivotal moment of the fight. Round 11, Usyk came out quick in the championship minutes, probing forward on the inside.
There was a moment where he strung together a 6 punch combination, which overwhelmed Joshua. Round 12 was one of the most memorable moments that I have seen in recent memory, with the smaller guy Usyk hellbent, and bullying Joshua, walking him down, pushing him off, and bludgeoning a heavily wobbled Joshua to oblivion with power, nearly taking Joshua out by TKO – luckily for Joshua, there weren’t 15 more seconds left in the bout, otherwise he could’ve been stopped….but somehow survived to hear the 12th and final bell, enduring the punishment.
Joshua post-bell, you could see the heavy grimace on his face from the accumulation of punishment, and appeared to need some assistance, while Usyk celebrated. The only lingering question (and the big question) was…would Usyk get his just due for his work. Thankfully for boxing’s sake, there were no funny business on the scorecards, and history was made.
Oleksandr Usyk in grand fashion heard from Michael Buffer “and the NEW! Heavyweight Champion of the World”, and immediately the tears began to stream down Usyk’s face, fully basking in his moment, as he had just picked up the WBA, WBO and IBF World Heavyweight Titles. This fight is one that will go down in lore, and is the biggest feat in Ukrainian Heavyweight boxing history, fully staking his claim, and cementing his position as a First-Ballot Hall of Famer.