Home SPORTS Outclassed AJ left battered and bruised

Outclassed AJ left battered and bruised

TAKE THAT . . . Challenger Oleksandr Usyk (right) connects with a straight right on his way to beating Anthony Joshua at the Tottenham Stadium in London on Saturday night to win the world heavyweight crown - Reuters

Outclassed AJ left battered and bruised

In the final seconds of the fight that had humbled him, Anthony Joshua’s giant frame sagged against the ropes in front of the ringside rows of celebrities who had come to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium to acclaim him.

He had no answer to Oleksandr Usyk anymore and he knew it.

He stood there, offering nothing in return, as his opponent’s blows rained down on him.

Usyk knew it was nearly over, too.

The Ukrainian had heard the tapping that signals there are only 10 seconds of the round remaining.

And, so in the end, he stopped throwing punches and stood there, stock-still, in front of the man he had beaten, not willing and not needing to impose any more punishment upon him. And then the bell sounded.

Joshua smiled weakly and waved his gloved hand in the air in a gesture of triumph. By then, his right eye was badly swollen so that he could barely see out of it.

It had been like that for several rounds. Usyk, a former cruiserweight champion who had only fought twice at heavyweight before Saturday night, might not have had the power to knock him out but he had hurt him badly. He had punished him relentlessly.

Joshua knew he had been beaten, too, by then but he had salvaged something. In front of 67,000 people, he had lost but he had not yielded.

The three ringside judges scored the fight 117-112, 116-112, 115-113 in the Ukrainian star’s favour

Joshua has lost the three versions of the world heavyweight title that he held and he has probably lost the prospect of ever fighting Tyson Fury in the showdown that the sporting world has wanted to see for the last three years and which would have brought the two combatants an estimated £200m.

All that has gone.

Joshua has lost his reputation.

Usyk made him look ordinary, he made him look limited, he made him look like the fighter his detractors have always claimed that he is – a big puncher but not a natural talent like Usyk or Fury.

A fighter who has been manufactured and finds it hard to adapt and innovate. Joshua is only 31 and he is supposed to have a rematch clause but would he really want to fight Usyk again after this?

It is hard to imagine so.

In that way, Saturday night’s defeat hurts him more than the defeat to Andy Ruiz Jr at Madison Square Garden in New York hurt him two years ago.

The champion towered above the challenger, a reminder he had the advantage in power and reach as well as height.

When the contest started, Joshua’s nonchalance disappeared. He gave Usyk all the respect he deserved in the first round and the two men barely laid a glove on each other.

In the second, Joshua did catch his opponent with a left hook to the side of the face but Usyk rode it easily. The challenger looked lithe and comfortable, his footwork keeping him out of Joshua’s range.

By the end of the eighth, it was obvious Joshua was being outclassed. He still carried the threat of his devastating right hand but Usyk was outboxing him.

That feeling continued through the ninth round and in the tenth Joshua was cut under his right eye and swelling starting to obscure his vision. Usyk sensed his chance but Joshua dug in courageously and took the fight back to Usyk.

Joshua desperately tried to unload his right hand but in the eleventh, it was Usyk who caught him again and again with the left.

The final round was the same.

And, so Joshua stood there and took everything that Usyk threw at him and he refused to buckle.

He never put him down and in the midst of his humbling, it is hard to begrudge him that. — Mailonline.

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