LONDON – Alexander Usik ended Anthony Joshua’s second reign as world heavyweight champion on Saturday with a unanimous victory in his third fight since stepping down from the cruiserweight division.
Usik became the third man, after Evander Holyfield and David Hay, to win the world title in cruiserweight and then heavyweight. Six years after Vladimir Klitschko’s long heavyweight reign ended, Ukraine has another champion in boxing’s marquee division.
Joshua could not counter Usyak’s superior reflexes and punching power, especially from his left side, and ended the fight on the ropes after a flurry of sharp punches by a challenger mandated for his WBO belt.
Usyk also took Joshua’s WBA and IBF titles to his name. Joshua has a rematch clause in the deal.
The judges battled 117–112, 116–112 and 115–113, and Joshua accepted the result as he went to Usyak’s corner.
Usyk stepped up to heavyweight in 2019 after unifying all cruiserweight belts, and now has 19 straight victories as a professional.
His energy level was remarkable as he punched Joshua in a major final round. The champion looked helpless in the final seconds after leaning against the ropes and just smiling.
As the final bell rang, Usyk fell to his knees and looked up to the skies of London as more than 62,000 spectators gasped inside Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
After this, Usik entertained the audience by performing an acrobatic dance inside the ring.
After losing to Andy Ruiz Jr. in New York, Joshua fell for the second loss of his 25-fight pro career, which he promptly retaliated in Saudi Arabia.