Eddie Hearn admits he wasn’t nearly as stunned Saturday night as he was when Andy Ruiz upset Anthony Joshua in June 2019 at Madison Square Garden.
Joshua’s promoter completely understood that Oleksandr Usyk was more than capable of out-boxing Joshua in their 12-round heavyweight title fight. Ukraine’s Usyk (19-0, 13 KOs) did just that to win the IBF, IBO, WBA and WBO titles from England’s Joshua (24-2, 22 KOs) at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
The left-handed Usyk got off to a strong start, buzzed Joshua multiple times before hurting him badly toward the end of the 12th round and won a unanimous decision. Judges Viktor Fesechko (117-111), Steve Weisfeld (116-112) and Howard Foster (115-113) scored nine, eight and seven rounds for Usyk, respectively.
Hearn acknowledged that Usyk clearly won their battle between 2012 Olympic gold medalists.
“I think a number of things,” Hearn stated during his post-fight interview when asked what went wrong for Joshua. “You know, we talked about overthinking it and getting too technical. He tried to do that with arguably, you know, one of the top pound-for-pound technical fighters in the world. Tonight, Oleksandr Usyk was fantastic. I don’t think it was a great performance from AJ, when he looks back. But was that the brilliance of Oleksandr Usyk?
“You know, [Joshua] looked tired as the fight went on. He looked like he lost his power a little bit. Again, was that what Tony Bellew talked about, that mental fatigue of Usyk’s work? Usyk was busier than I expected him to be. I thought he had the perfect game plan and tonight, you know, he makes history as the unified heavyweight world champion. You have to take your hat off to him. It’s sport, and the better man won tonight.”
The 34-year-old Usyk withstood Joshua’s rally during the middle rounds to become a two-weight world champion in his career-defining fight.
CompuBox credited Usyk for landing 25 more punches overall than Joshua (148-of-529 to 123-of-641). They landed the same number of jabs (52-of-427 for Joshua; 52-of-309 for Usyk), but CompuBox counted more power punches for Usyk (96-of-220 to 71-of-214).
Joshua, 31, might’ve sustained a serious injury to the orbital bone around his right eye. The former champion has an immediate rematch clause, however, and, according to Hearn, Joshua intends to exercise that contractual right.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.