Through eight rounds, Oleksandr Usyk had outboxed and outthought Anthony Joshua. Make sure you check out our best betting strategies.
It hadn’t been easy.
Usyk had worked hard to build a lead over his seriously focused foe. He moved and used angles, feints, and annoying punches to keep the former champion off balance. Still, before the ninth round commenced, something had changed.
“I’m not sure if I’m right or wrong, “said Usyk after the fight. “But I saw in round eight that he was feeling victorious already.”
Joshua, upping the pressure gauge, had banged Usyk’s with a few body shots in round eight. Whatever success he was having was there, but Usyk had popped him with a combination near the end of the round to remind him who the boss was.
Things changed quickly in round nine.
Near the 1:30 minute mark of the stanza, the more aggressive Joshua let fly with a wicked combination that landed. Usyk held and moved away but not fast enough. Joshua connected with an inside right to the belly – followed by several more blows that forced Usyk into the ropes.
Suddenly, the champion who had his way with Joshua over eighty percent of the rounds was backing off and covering up. Joshua fired some more heavy shots, but Usyk ducked and moved.
Usyk took a deep breath as he returned to his corner. He stared across the ring as he sat on his stool. The most critical moments of the fight had arrived. Usyk would have to tap into whatever reservoir of strength, determination, and motivation he had left. Perhaps he thought of his compatriots at war against Russia.
He nodded to his corner and stood – meeting Joshua in the center of the ring with an assortment of hooks and crosses. He moved left and right, ducked a hook from Joshua, and clipped him with more blows.
Joshua was following Usyk but not punching back. A Usyk left buckled his legs. Joshua returned the favor seconds later, cracking Usyk with the kind of shot that had knocked out 22 opponents. Usyk absorbed the blow and went back to work. Near the end of the round, he rattled Joshua with more combinations to the head and body.
Usyk had met his fear head-on and prevailed. Though exhausted, he swept the final two rounds, but the fight was essentially over after round 10. His hunger was deep.
Joshua’s emotional meltdown after the fight – likely fueled by disappointment, frustration, and pressure was embarrassing.
“I’m not a 12-round fighter,” said Joshua in the ring. “Look at me; I’m a new breed of heavyweight. All the heavyweights, Mike Tyson, Sonny Liston, Jack Dempsey, they say ‘he doesn’t throw combinations like Rocky Marciano,’ because I’m not f**king 14 stone (200 pounds). That’s why. I’m 18 stone (250 pounds). I’m heavy.”
Usyk called out 270-pound Tyson Fury, who does throw combinations.
“I want to fight him,” Usyk said.
Works for me, champ.
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