By Robert Segal: Oleksandr Usyk (20-0, 13 KOs) says he was plenty worried in the ninth round tonight when Anthony Joshua (24-3, 22 KOs) made a late surge in their fight in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
Usyk says he saw in Joshua’s eyes in the eighth round that he was feeling victorious already despite there being a quarter of the fight remaining.
Somehow, Usyk was able to will himself to retake control over the fight in the tenth round, and he never looked back. Joshua still fought hard, but he wasn’t able to repeat the success that he’d enjoyed in the ninth.
The scores were 116-112, 115-113 for Usyk, and 115-113 for Joshua.
“One judge scored it for Anthony Joshua. That’s the difference between the first fight and the second,” said Oleksandr Usyk at the post-fight press conference.
“This fight was extremely important for my country, for my team, and personally for me because I did box for the whole country and half of the world,” Usyk continued.
“In spite of my ability to control my emotions, I was worrying a bit, especially in round nine, but that was a surprising element. I’m not sure if I’m right or wrong, but I saw in round eight, I saw in AJ’s eyes, that he was feeling victorious already.
“I kept telling myself, “You can not stop.’ Some big things were at stake. I thank God that the belts are coming back to Ukraine. The victory is with us, and Ukraine won,” said Usyk.
“He tried. He emptied his tank,” said Eddie Hearn during the post-fight press conference about Joshua. “In the tenth, eleventh and twelfth, he was still in there, taking shots and carrying on.
“I don’t know what you got to do to get respect. What’s the point of keeping chasing it? 24 rounds with the pound-for-pound #1. He lost the first fight 116-112. He wasn’t in the fight. He was in the fight tonight, and there were times where he looked like he was going to win the fight, but it was a brilliant solution to the championship rounds.
“.I told him, ‘You lost the fight to the pound-for-pound #1. There are plenty of fighters you’re going to steamroll. But whatever you think about Anthony Joshua, even if you don’t rate him, he’s a top five heavyweight in the world. It could be worse, couldn’t it?
“You’re a great heavyweight, and you’re going to improve on that experience,” said Hearn about Joshua.