Jeddah, Saudi Arabia – In a highly anticipated heavyweight rematch, Oleksandr Usyk (20-0, 13 KOs) overcame some tough moments to win a twelve round split decision over Anthony Joshua (24-3, 22 KOs) to retain the WBO, IBF, WBA, IBO world titles. (photos by Mark Robinson)
The scores were 115-113 for Joshua, 115-113 for Usyk, and 116-112 for Usyk.
Last September at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, Usyk outboxed Joshua over twelve rounds to capture unified crown. Afterwards, Joshua would exercise an immediate rematch clause.
In the first round of the rematch, both were jabbing in a very technical fight. Joshua was jabbing very well in the second and also targeting the body of Usyk. Joshua was applying a lot of pressure. In the third, Joshua was still pressing and responding to everything Usyk tried to do. In the final minute, Usyk made adjustments and was starting to connect with his quick punches.
Usyk continued to pick things up in the fourth. Joshua was firing back, but Usyk was outlanding him. It was more of the same in the fifth, with Usyk outboxing the bigger man. It was still a technical boxing match in the sixth. Joshua did better and seemed to land a few solid punches, but it was close with Usyk rallying in the final minute. Joshua left eye was swelling.
In the seventh, Usyk was able to use movement and boxing to keep Joshua at bay. Joshua was digging to the body in the eight. Usyk was pecking away with jabs and quick shots, but Joshua continued to go downstairs. Usyk landed a hard counter in the closing moments. In the ninth, Joshua was unloading with punches to the head and body. He seemed to have Usyk on the rung and was letting his punches fly to the head and body.
Usyk came out firing in the tenth and landed several hard punches on Joshua. Joshua was being tagged up with hard punches. He was battering Joshua in the round from start to finish to get some payback from the last round. In the eleventh, Usyk came back out firing once again. He was throwing a lot of punches and landing many of them. Joshua responded with a few body shots, but not much else connected.
The twelfth and final round, saw Usyk outlanding Joshua. It was a give and take initially, with Usyk taking advantage of Joshua’s fatigue and outlanding him as the round played out.