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Anthony Joshua vs. Oleksandr Usyk 2: Result, Scorecard and Report from World Heavyweight Title Rematch in Saudi Arabia

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There have been many different Anthony Joshuas over the years. There was Anthony Joshua, the model, the businessman, the Olympian, the juggernaut, the con man.

So what was the version that paraded around the ring in Jeddah on Saturday night, mic in hand, beaten but full of passion, respect and war?

The sharp jawline was there, just a little more agile than usual. The pragmatic mind must have been there, albeit something rattled in his skull. The Team GB logo was there, inked on the Briton’s injured skin beneath sticky sweat. That’s how every Joshua was accounted for that Saudi summer night. Everything plus this possessed, deranged version.

The 32-year-old’s career has been carefully crafted over the years and his public image is as good as his physique. The problems have arisen when someone other than Joshua or promoter Eddie Hearn has been holding the chisel. Take Oleksandr Usyk, for example. Eleven months ago, he battered the juggernaut until cracks appeared and the shell shattered, leaving Joshua, the would-be impostor, beaten and confused in London.

Nearly a year later, Usyk used the same tools at Jeddah to retain the heavyweight belts he won last September with an all-out decision win from “AJ.” Once again these tools cut off Joshua the Moloch.

To be clear, the “cheater” tag has always been an unfair label for Joshua, who has real skill and an impressive resume, but when you attract the general public and less involved fans, you also get such a reckless dismissal put on. In any case, even an improved Joshua couldn’t shake that Herculean sign from his shoulders on that long-awaited evening as he suffered a second crucial defeat against Usyk.

Joshua showed an improved performance but fell short again against Usyk

(PA)

The pair’s main event began with Joshua bumping the body to reveal what may be the only slight weakness Usyk has ever shown. The Brit added direct rights but Usyk responded in kind, changing planes but staying light on his feet. Joshua succeeded in Round 2 with hooks to the body while mimicking the champion’s sideways movement to reduce the unfathomability that frustrated him last September.

However, Usyk hovered like a specter from side to side, startling Joshua with straight southpaw links that crawled through the Briton’s guard as the fight sped towards his half-time. Joshua, dressed in black swim trunks for most of his run as a heavyweight contender, went in search of the uppercuts that have caused him such damage in the past, but they were out of reach – as was the awkward opponent opposite him .

Unlike in the pair’s first bout, however, AJ was able to channel his frustration, directing spiteful uppercuts into the midsection of smaller Usyk, who complained that such a punch went below the belt. A level of brutality was brewing that was lacking in the London edition of this duel. Usyk, so emotionless and clinical eleven months ago, was drilling leather into Joshua’s body as if angered by the Brit’s own attacks. The Ukrainian also showed the speed that was so effective for him last year, deftly carving sharp angles and putting together combinations, although Joshua remained alert with a tenacious defence.

Joshua maintained the forward pressure, but as he slacked off in the soggy arena, he didn’t complement that move with enough power, and Usyk once again put up his left cross – stabbing the trudging former champion. The suckers gave way to slips, and the referee stopped the action in round 8 to wipe the canvas dry. Joshua continued to target Usyk’s body and later in the frame unleashed a quick four-shot volley, although Usyk continued to pass him with a smoother, cleaner offense.

Joshua was a winner on one of the three judges’ scorecards

(Action pics via Reuters)

Joshua, overwhelmed by the urgency in Round 9, began putting together the combinations he was too hesitant to pursue in London, hitting Usyk’s midriff with terrible hooks and also testing the 35-year-old’s coverage. The Ukrainian retreated but didn’t quite wobble when the round ended.

An irritated Usyk did what he had done so well in the first fight, stopping the momentum just as Joshua appeared to have grabbed some of his own. The Ukrainian wing hooked the cheeks of Joshua, who had been standing like an obelisk in front of Usyk, and began to sway, spitting saliva. Somehow Joshua managed to catch Usyk with a counter right hook in the middle of a champion’s uproar and the southpaw appeared to have been shaken to the core.

But again Usyk showed his determination, flinching, faking and then overpowering Joshua with viciousness and volume. A left uppercut and right hook jerked Joshua’s head back late in the frame and the Brit once again ran out of answers and determination as the championship rounds rolled on.

Joshua was in dire need of a finish and was chasing Usyk in the final moments, but the Ukrainian took the Briton’s best shots and spat back blows with venom, no doubt driven by a will to give his beleaguered compatriots something, anything there was to celebrate.

And – where they can, as long as they can – they will celebrate in Ukraine. Because after the final bell rang, Joshua helped his rival raise the Ukrainian flag just before the scorecards were unveiled – just before Usyk was again declared the decision winner over Joshua.

Joshua grabbed a mic after the fight and delivered a bizarre speech

(Action pics via Reuters)

It was closer this time; Joshua was closer, with a judge scoring the fight in his favour. But ultimately there was to be no Red Sea salvation for AJ.

Unable to reclaim the titles, Joshua… well, literally reclaimed the titles. After storming out of the ring, Joshua returned to grab two of the belts and dropped them outside the ring. Then he grabbed a microphone. The monolith delivered a bizarre monologue, opened up about his own accomplishments, proclaimed himself the “new generation” of the heavyweight division and ridiculed comparisons to Mike Tyson.

Luckily, he also paid tribute to his trusted conqueror. Usyk paid tribute to his god.

But Usyk was master of his own destiny in Saudi Arabia. Unfortunately for Joshua, the Ukrainian was also the champion of his again.

https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/boxing/anthony-joshua-usyk-result-scorecard-report-b2149354.html Anthony Joshua vs. Oleksandr Usyk 2: Result, Scorecard and Report from World Heavyweight Title Rematch in Saudi Arabia

Fry Electronics Team

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