In pictures: Joshua stunned by Usyk
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Anthony Joshua was stripped of his three heavyweight world titles for the second time in his professional boxing career on Saturday night as he lost to Oleksandr Usyk at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. But will the pair now contest a rematch?
The Briton was well beaten by Usyk as the scorecards read 117-112, 116-112, 115-113 following a thrilling showdown between the pair.
Unbeaten Usk, the former undisputed cruiserweight king, is now the owner of the IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight belts.
He reflected: “This means a lot for me. The fight went the way I expected it to go. There were moments when Anthony pushed me hard but it was nothing special.
“I had no objective to knock him out because my corner pushed me not to do that. In the beginning, I tried to hit him hard, but then I stuck to my job.
“The only thing I wanted to do with this fight is to give praise to Jesus Christ.”
The Ukrainian produced a boxing masterclass in north London to inflict the second defeat of Joshua’s career after Andy Ruiz Jr.
Speaking in the ring after all three judges scored in his favour, Usyk said simply: “I want to go home, I’m not thinking about the rematch now.”
But it is highly likely the pair will fight again early in 2022, with it well known that Joshua has a clause to exercise a second bout.
Eddie Hearn said back in June: “There will be a clause. All the terms are agreed and that was a prior term. When you talk about a rematch clause, it’s also the biggest fight that fighter could have.
“Sometimes people think, ‘that’s a bad thing’. It’s actually sometimes a good thing.
“Andy Ruiz ended up getting quite a lot of money for his rematch, but it’s a massive opportunity. If Oleksandr Usyk wins, he then makes an absolute fortune to fight AJ again.”
He added more recently: “Yes, there will be [a rematch clause]. It’s a two-fight deal in that respect. If he wins the fight, he’ll move on and he will hopefully fight the winner of Tyson Fury vs Deontay Wilder.”
Joshua has only once before required a rematch, after he suffered the first defeat of his professional career to Ruiz Jr in New York.
The Mexican-American floored AJ four times in their first fight in June 2019 before being stopped in the seventh round.
A rematch clause was exercised and six months later in Saudi Arabia, Joshua was much improved as he reclaimed his three belts in the ‘Clash on the Dunes’ via unanimous decision.
But it is expected he will seek another rematch, this time against Usyk, as he looks to win back his belts once more.
His promoter Hearn said post-fight: “He’s already talking about training again. A devastating defeat. Congratulations to Oleksandr Usyk, what a fighter, a great performance tonight, the better man won.
“The fighter in AJ, he’s already talking about, ‘I’ll win the rematch, I’ll win the rematch.’ It was a tough defeat. I had it reasonably close in the eighth or ninth then Usyk just ran away with it, I thought 8-4, even 7-5 the best scenario.
“Usyk was the deserved winner and Joshua has got to make changes in the rematch because if that happens again, of course he’ll get beat. He’s got to impose himself early.
“It’ll be really difficult because Usyk’s confidence will be sky high. When you get to the level of Joshua, as we saw after the Ruiz defeat, there’s no 10-round comeback fights or warm-ups, you’re straight back in.
“He’ll want to go straight back into that rematch. He’ll be an underdog but that’s what he does. He was beaten by the better man.”
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