A good big man will always beat a good small man, is a saying from within the confines of boxing to predict the outcome of a contest to which is often true, but on Saturday night when making this statement, those saying so didn’t include the fact that okay the ‘Good big man’ was correct but the latter statement should include the word ‘exceptional’ in place of ‘good’ for the smaller guy which makes all the difference.
This was the case in Saturday nights contest, witnessing former undisputed cruiserweight king Oleksandr Usyk score a tremendous upset of the WBA, IBF, WBO heavyweight champ Anthony Joshua at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London.
Usyk was not to be denied on a night where he outboxed, outfoxed and denied ‘AJ’ of any opportunity of retaining his throne. The Ukrainian started strong, staking his claim with a solid round three that rocked Joshua.
The heavyweight champ did find some rhythm in the middle rounds to keep Usyk honest, bloodying the eye of the challenger in the process but as the rounds passed so did the hopes of the Joshua faithful, seeing their man falter, his eye closed shut whilst reeling along the ropes in the nights closer.
A few moments of uncertainty rang in the air following the announcement of the scores, especially after earlier seeing Campbell Hatton escape like a thief in the night with his lossless record still intact but on this occasion the judges got it right, rendering scores of 117-112, 116-112, 115-113 all for the new heavyweight king Mr Oleksandr Usyk.
“The fight went exactly the way I expected it to go,” Usyk said during his post-fight interview. “There were a couple of moments when Anthony pushed me hard, but nothing special.
“I had no objective to knock him out because my trainers pushed me not to do that. At the beginning I hit him hard and tried to knock him out but my trainers said to stop and just do my job.”
Joshua tried to remain positive, giving Usyk the respect that he deserves but claimed that he will take up the option of the rematch clause.
“Well done to the winner. We’ll be back again. Get back into training. Great twelve rounds, great experience in the ring, and then we progress from this point on once again so we’ll be doing it all again soon.
“I couldn’t see in the ninth round. I couldn’t see anything really. But it was a good experience because in adversity you just gotta learn to control yourself. Stay on top of things.
“When I couldn’t see anything, it’s the first time it’s happened in a fight. I was thinking ‘all right, cool…this is the first time my eye’s closed up in a fight. I can’t see anything and I’m looking out of one eye.’ But it got better as the rounds went on.
“We’ll be back 100 (percent). I’m ready to get back to training. Because of the twelve rounds, my lungs and everything, it was a good twelve-rounder so I’ll be in a good place when I get back into training to pick up where we left off.
“He’s got good pace but he still gets hit, you know? He gets hit a lot and in the rematch, we’ll just learn how to hit him more and be more concussive with our punch selection.
“I never tend to look at the opponent. I just tend to look at myself and realize where I went wrong. So it’s not so much what he did, it’s the opportunities I gave him. So it’s not so much him, I’m just going to go back and look at myself and correct my wrongs.
“The road to undisputed and all that stuff is good. As I said, I’ll fight Tyson Fury, Wilder whatnot, without the belts. The belts are fun, it’s great, it’s legacy, but with or without the belts I’ll fight whoever. The road to undisputed is a nice title to chase, but would you still watch it without the belts?”
Usyk didn’t go into detail on his future plans only saying that he wanted to see his family, his loved one he hadn’t seen since January but on leaving he did warn the former Heavyweight champion
“You didn’t see the best Usyk, I can be much better.”