Usyk dethroned Joshua by using a combination of footwork, head movement and a sharp left hand to keep Joshua off balance throughout the 12-round affair in front of nearly 70,000 pro-Joshua fans at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, England.
Joshua (24-2, 22 KOs) simply couldn’t figure out the puzzle known as Usyk but made things tough for his opponent in the middle rounds by making adjustments and working the body. But Usyk would not be denied on this night and closed the fight just as strong as he started it.
Both men felt the effects of their gruelling 12-round duel with damaged right eyes apiece, but the timing of Usyk — both in his punches and when he switched from patience to aggression — were second-to-none and left most of Joshua’s key fighting strengths out of the situation entirely.
All three judges ruled in favour of Usyk, 117-112; 116-112 and 115-113. Joshua had done enough in isolation to keep it close and competitive, but never really left first gear before Usyk’s excellent conclusion in the last two rounds sealed it beyond debate.
The result likely scuppers the previous plan of a four-belt unification between Joshua and Tyson Fury — which was the plan for the summer until Deontay Wilder successfully forced a trilogy bout with the current WBC champ.