London (AFP)

WBA, WBO and IBF heavyweight world champion Anthony Joshua was clearly beaten on points and unanimously by the judges (117-112, 116-112, 115-113) at his home in London by the Ukrainian Oleksandr Usyk, Saturday.

Ridden in 2019 light heavyweight where he was unified world champion, Usyk made speak his technique and his superior vivacity against a Joshua who never really found his rhythm in this fight.

"The fight went exactly as I thought it would. Sometimes he jostled me, but never too hard," said Usyk after the match at the Sky Sport microphone.

"My goal was not to knock him out. At first I was hitting hard to try to knock him out, but my coach asked me to stop and just do my job," he added.

“AJ” and everyone in boxing see the prospect of a 100% British unification fight fading away against WBC champion Tyson Fury, who is due to face Deontay Wilder in Las Vegas on October 9.

Joshua has a clause for a second fight against Usyk to try to get his belts back, as he did in December 2019, after the first loss of his pro career, against Andy Ruiz Jr in June 2019.

The Briton's record now stands at 24 wins and two losses, while Usyk remains undefeated in 19 fights.

- The "Cat" too bright for Joshua -

Before planning for a rematch or another challenge, Joshua will have to digest this missed meeting.

Matchroom, the promoter of the two boxers, had made it big, not skimping on the fireworks and other pyrotechnics around Joshua's entrance.

Very relaxed, he had waddled and sang the anthem ordered by one of his main sponsors, encouraging the 60,000 spectators in the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium with arm movements to make even more noise.

British heavyweight Anthony Joshua struggles to find an opening against Ukrainian Oleksandr Usyk in their WBA, IBF and WBO title fight at stake in London, September 25, 2021 Adrian DENNIS AFP

Before him, the Ukrainian champion had made his entrance to boos in an outfit reminiscent of a cosmonaut suit, with a reflective visor.

Around the ring was a profusion of sportsmen and personalities, such as the four-time Olympic champion in athletics, Mo Farah, the English football international Declan Rice or actors like Idriss Elba.

Faced with an opponent evolving in "false leg" - a left-hander with the right fist in front -, smaller by 7 centimeters and with a shorter reach of 10 cm, the champion was initially rather cautious.

During the first two rounds, he mostly looked for the right distance with jabs from the left.

But in the third, it was Usyk who was the first to seek to support his punches by taking advantage of his greater vivacity of movement and of arms which earned him the nickname of "Cat", touching Joshua in the face of a hook. left 15 seconds from the bell.

- One last boost -

It was not until the 5th round to feel the Briton return to his fight and become more active by seeking to vary his strikes and also work on the body.

The Ukrainian, who was only in his third heavyweight fight, after dominating the light-heavyweight category, began to feel more and more of Joshua's right, losing the 5th and 6th round.

Anthony Joshua cornered on the ropes by Oleksandr Usyk during the last round of their fight in London, September 25, 2021 Adrian DENNIS AFP

He rebelled in the 7th, pushing back on his support Joshua after a wide left hook 40 seconds from the end of the restart.

On the 10th round, the two boxers were marked, Joshua's right eye closing as blood flowed from a cut above the same eye in his opponent.

It felt like it could still tip both ways, but the fresher, more active and more precise Usyk accelerated and won by a large amount the last two rounds, throwing Tottenham Hotspur Stadium into amazement.

A habit for the Ukrainian who has made a specialty of going to beat his opponents at home, whether in Germany, Poland, Russia, the United States or London, as in his last victory, by unanimous decision, against Dereck Chisora.

© 2021 AFP

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