LONDON — Oleksandr Usyk did exactly what he said he would do: follow an undisputed cruiserweight title success by becoming the unified heavyweight champion of the world.
Challenger Usyk put on a fantastic performance to dethrone Anthony Joshua via unanimous decision (117-111, 116-112, 115-113) and capture the IBF, WBA (super), and WBO heavyweight titles.
Both men felt the effects of their grueling 12-round duel with damaged right eyes apiece, but the timing of Usyk — both in his punches and when he switched from patience to aggression — were second-to-none and forced most of Joshua's key fighting strengths out of the situation entirely.
Joshua had done enough in isolation to keep it close and competitive but never really left first gear before Usyk's excellent conclusion in the last two rounds sealed it beyond debate.
The result likely scuppers the previous plan of a four-belt unification between Joshua and Tyson Fury — which was the plan for the summer until Deontay Wilder legally forced a trilogy bout with the current WBC champ.
There was a rematch clause in the contract. Joshua promoter Eddie Hearn told DAZN during the post-fight show that Joshua would invoke it. On this evidence, however, 'AJ' will need an entirely new approach to do what he did after his first pro loss to Andy Ruiz Jr. and regain the belts.
In the chief support, Lawrence Okolie made a comfortable first defense of his WBO cruiserweight title when he overwhelmed mandatory challenger Dilan Prasovic, scoring a knockdown in the second round before a body shot in the third prompted the official to wave it off.
Callum Smith marked his light-heavyweight bow with a brutal second-round knockout of Lenin Castillo, which caused a scare as the defeated boxer went limp in the ring. He did, however, show signs of recuperation as he was taken away by the medical team. It was Smith's first fight since losing his super-middleweight title to Canelo Alvarez in December.
Campbell Hatton appeared extremely fortunate to get the referee's decision against Sonny Martinez, 58-57, in what was a very rough outing in the young career of 'Hitman' Ricky Hatton's son. And Florian Marku won an enjoyable main card opener against Maxim Prodan via split decision with extremely contrasting scorecards from the judges: 99-91 to Prodan and 97-93 and 96-94 to Marku.
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