Anthony Joshua loses again as Usyk retains world titles

Oleksandr Usyk edged out Anthony Joshua to retain his world titles after an enthralling rematch in Saudi Arabia.

Joshua, with new trainer Robert Garcia in his corner, produced a much-improved performance 11 months on from his defeat by the former undisputed cruiserweight world champion. But Usyk again proved to be too good as he was given the nod on two of the three scorecards.

Usyk dominated Joshua over 12 rounds in London. On that occasion, Joshua claimed he wanted to out-box his unbeaten rival only for his game plan to fall apart as he conceded the early rounds.

Joshua was unable to recover and was almost stopped on his feet in the dying stages as Usyk ran out a comfortable winner in just his third fight at heavyweight. Joshua immediately triggered his rematch clause but the fight was delayed from April to July and finally to late August after Russia invaded Ukraine.

And it was Usyk who landed the first solid punch of the fight with a left hand to the chin as Joshua looked to work the champion’s body. He then responded to another left hand with a backhand of his own but it was the Ukrainian who made the better start.

Joshua punctuated the start of the second round with a right hand as he looked to take the initiative. He looked to drop down to the body but Usyk’s footwork continued to cause problems, as it did in their first meeting, as he landed flush with his lead right hand.

But Usyk showed no ill effects as he made a fast start to the 10th round with a flurry of left hands. Joshua had little answer to the onslaught but suddenly found a right hand from nowhere to stun his adversary. But it was Usyk who came on stronger in the final minute as his powers of recovery came to the fore.

Usyk sensed an early finish with six minutes remaining but Joshua remained dangerous when he switched to the body. But the champion had seemingly limitless reserves of conditioning as he picked his punches to ensure he took a lead into the final round.

Joshua likely needed a stoppage in the final session and did land a right hand against the ropes only for Usyk to respond immediately. And it was the champion who finished on top before the judges confirmed his reign will continue.
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