UPDATE: Oleksandr Usyk is the winner by unanimous decision. He took it with scorecards of 115-113, 116-112, and 117-112.
It’s fight time in London! Heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua puts four titles — three of them major — on the line against WBO mandatory challenger Oleksandr Usyk. Joshua is putting the WBA, WBO, IBF, and IBO titles on the line in his home country.
Ring walks are wrapping up as this publishes and the fight is about to get underway. Joshua is a -250 favorite at DraftKings Sportsbook while Usyk is a +185 underdog. Total rounds is installed at 9.5 with the over priced at -160 and the under priced at +120.
The referee for the fight is Michael Alexander (England). The judges are Viktor Fesechko (Ukraine), Howard Foster (England), Steve Weisfeld (United States).
Joshua wants to fight Tyson Fury, but for now he has to handle his business against a mandatory challenger. If he wins this fight and Fury defeats Deontay Wilder in October, we could finally see a heavyweight unification bout in early 2022. But for now, Joshua cannot look past Usyk. The challenger comes into the fight with an 18-0 record, but this is also just his third fight at the heavyweight level. He was previously a cruiserweight and is a little under 20 pounds lighter while giving up four inches of reach. This should be an interesting one!
Round 1: Usyk 10-9
Both fighters are busy, albeit with lighter punches. They kept their hands busy, each landing a few shots, but neither has done any damage in the first minute. Usyk lands the first big shot at the 1:20 mark. It doesn’t shake Joshua, but it’s the most solid connection to that point. He follows with a little hook around 55 seconds. Joshua attempts a couple harder punches but doesn’t appear to land either. Joshua got a little busier at the end of the round, but Usyk landed the more effective shots.
Round 2: Joshua 10-9 (19-19)
We’re seeing Joshua use his reach a little better. He’s got the left jab going to keep Usyk from getting inside. Joshua landed the best shots of the round, including a decent body shot, but they weren’t really much as neither fighter got a lot going this round. (UPDATE: Replays with better angles would give this to Usyk, but this is live scoring, so I’ll leave it for Joshua).
Round 3: Usyk 10-9 (29-28)
Usyk lands the biggest shot of the fight in the first minute and we’re starting to see a little more mustard behind both fighters’ punches. Usyk remains the busier fighter, so even if he’s not slowing Joshua yet, he’s going to keep accumulating rounds. And just like that, in the final 30 seconds he seems to briefly stun Joshua who then responds with a big shot of his own in the final ten seconds. Entertaining round!
Round 4: Usyk 10-9 (39-37)
Usyk just keeps on being busier. It looked like he had Joshua stumbling, but that appeared to be more of a slip. But he’s in control for the most part. Joshua isn’t really opening things up, sticking to a jab and straight shot that isn’t overly effective right now. Joshua lands a decent shot around 15 seconds left, but doesn’t follow up and loses another round.
Round 5: Joshua 10-9 (Usyk 48-47)
Usyk is struggling to get inside in the first half of this round. Joshua has the length but is not able to do much other than not take big shots. He’s landing some shots, but isn’t putting together much more than the occasional two-punch combination. Joshua landed a couple more effective shots and might have squeaked out this round. It was a close one.
Round 6: Joshua 10-9 (57-57)
This round has opened a bit slower than past rounds. It’s possible Usyk is being a bit more cautious after a more active round 5 for Joshua. Usyk lands a two-punch combination, then Joshua follows landing his own in the second minute. Joshua seems to be doing a better job moving Usyk around the ring and is starting to land a few more punches. And there’s a stiff straight from Joshua! Usyk keeps coming, but that’s the biggest shot Joshua has landed today. And he ends the round landing a solid hook to the head.
Round 7: Usyk 10-9 (67-66)
Usyk responds with a solid start to the round. Joshua seems more confident, but he’s not slowing Usyk yet. Usyk lands a shot at the 1:30 mark that briefly sends Joshua back. He adds a right hook near the end of the second minute. And a big left sends Joshua stumbling backward. He doesn’t go down but that stunned him. Usyk seems to smell blood gets in some combinations, but doesn’t do any more damage. (UPDATE: It appears Joshua got his feet tied up a bit, which led to the stumbling).
Round 8: Joshua 10-9 (76-76)
Joshua lands a bit of a body shot around 1:50, but neither fighter is landing much early in this round. That changes at 1:25 when Joshua lands a strong straight and a second 20 seconds later. Usyk comes in throwing a couple haymakers that don’t land. Another straight from Joshua and then a counter upper cut to the body a few seconds later. Nice Joshua uppercut in the final ten seconds.
Round 9: Usyk 10-9 (86-85)
Interestingly, we had a clinch at the 1:55 mark and it might have been the first significant clinch of the fight. These guys have kept busy and not tried to slow it down. Usyk with a strong shot to the head, then Joshua follows with a solid body shot. Usyk follows with a big shot at the end of the round that might have tipped it in his favor.
Round 10: Usyk 10-9 (96-94)
Usyk is aggressive out of the gate leading to some awkward clinching. He’s landed a couple strong shots through the first minute. The final minute saw the fighters getting busier, but we’ve also started to see more clinching. Usyk is again throwing some haymakers and missing. The crowd is getting a little more excited, but neither fighter is really landing the big punch to close the round.
Round 11: Usyk 10-9 (106-103)
Usyk with a big shot that rocks Joshua in the first 20 seconds. Joshua isn’t going down, but that hurt him. Joshua is trying to get busy but he can’t land much of anything, let alone slow Usyk with something big. Usyk coming in with a combination in the corner and he’s dominating this round. Joshua is going to need a knockout in the final round to win this fight.
Round 12: Usyk 10-9 (116-112)
Joshua trying to be more aggressive but this just doesn’t seem to be his night. Usyk staying busy and not looking to give up a free round. Joshua landing some stuff heading int the final round, but Usyk responding. He’s closing with a whole lot in the final seconds and has Joshua on the ropes. He didn’t put him down, but it was a really strong close for Usyk.
He should win this one, but you never know with boxing scorecards.