Boxing

Usyk v Joshua Review: What's next for the champ and where does AJ go from here?

Anthony Joshua boxing
Anthony Joshua's emotional rant is a cause for concern

It was an emotional night in Jeddah as Usyk beat AJ for the second time in 12 months. Having already provided a 3.2 winner, Betfair's Frankie Monkhouse gives his unique breakdown...

Oleksandr Usyk proved himself a worthy world heavyweight champion and possible long-term ruler of boxing's most popular division with another resounding win over Anthony Joshua on Saturday.

The Ukrainian beat the British fighter on a points decision at the Jeddah Superdome in Saudi Arabia, successfully defending the IBF, IBO, WBA and WBO titles he won from AJ in London.

Usyk takes his professional record to 20-0-0 with 13 knockouts, and two points wins over Joshua in the last 12 months. AJ's card moves to 24 wins against three defeats, losing three of his last five bouts.

Who will Usyk fight next, and where does Joshua go from here? Read on for our big fight Sunday breakdown.

AJ improves

After losing so convincingly in London last September, Joshua entered this rematch as the underdog, written off by most fight fans, pundits and ex-boxers before a punch had been thrown. It was thought he'd need a career-best performance to be competitive, and critics doubted the former champion's ability to step up. They were dead wrong.

AJ boxed out of his skin on Saturday night in Jeddah. He was most composed, found his range early and wasn't as tentative with his long, accurate jab as last year.

Joshua boxed at range then mixed it up on the inside, hurting his opponent with single shots, getting fans out of their seats. He was good, and that performance would have blown away most in the top 10, but Usyk remained in control throughout.

Joshua put so much pressure on himself to win his titles back, and, unfortunately, that showed in his bizarre post-fight rant.

He dropped the belts out of the ring and then stormed off before returning to grab the microphone. Someone somewhere should have saved the Olympic gold medallist from himself with too many members of Team Joshua showing they were nothing more than "yes men."

Usyk's too good

Saturday was the best Anthony has ever performed in a professional boxing ring. Unfortunately, it wasn't good enough. His big punches caught the eye, but single shots weren't good enough to discourage his opponent. The champion replied with counters and combinations, outworking the challenger.

Usyk used his footwork and ring IQ to avoid danger for the most part, and when he was caught on the inside, he planted his feet and fought his way out of trouble. It was a boxing masterclass, and the AJ fans' loyalty aside, Usyk was a joy to watch. His performance reminded us why this sport is known as the sweet science or noble art.

Yes, he was caught with more clean shots than most expected, but Usyk was in with a dangerous opponent with a point to prove. He was caught with punches but had an answer for everything Joshua threw at him.

Same old controversy in the scorecards

Following 12 pulsating rounds of action, the bout went to the judges' scorecards with the three sat at ringside awarding Usyk the win, but on a split decision. Another crazy result and another embarrassment for boxing, with fans left talking about the judges rather than the fighters.

Glen Feldman's card was read out first, leaving fight fans perplexed, awarding AJ the win by 115-113. Professional boxing needs to demand much better of its scoring judges with the decisions put under more scrutiny than they are today. Those who are miles off the mark should be held to account.

Glen was wrong. It is as simple as that, and his card was so wrong that he probably shouldn't be back judging a top-level fight until he explains what happened. Thankfully, his two colleagues had their heads screwed on. Viktor Fesechko gave it 116-112 Usyk, with Steve Gray going 115-113.

Fury beats Usyk

What's next for Usyk is an interesting question. There's only one fight we want to see now: Usyk v Tyson Fury. That would give us something we haven't had for many years; one universally recognised boxing champion and the king of the heavyweights.

Judging by the recent form of both men, it's almost impossible to write Usyk off, but Fury beats him.

The Gypsy King can box and move, has speed in his hands and feet, carries concussive power in both fists, and his defence is strong. But the weight and size advantage will make the difference if that bout comes to fruition.

WBC champion Fury weighed 277lbs ahead of his third fight with Deontay Wilder. Usyk weighed 221lbs on Saturday. That's quite a difference. Fury will plan to box Usyk, but when he gets his hands on him up close, leans all of his weight on the Ukrainian and relies on his natural size and strength advantages, Usyk's legs will weaken.

Do that two or three times, and by the second half of the contest, Oleksandr won't be as mobile as he was against AJ, allowing Fury to land his big shots. The current betting odds available on the Betfair Sportsbook offer Fury as 3/10 favourite with Usyk 15/8 and the draw at 16/1.

AJ has a decision to make

What about Joshua? Well, he lost a few supporters last night, and it remains to be seen how serious he was about leaving behind a legacy in the sport. Does he take his millions of pounds and retire or show more character than I think he has and takes on the likes of Wilder, Andy Ruiz or Dillian Whyte?

One thing's for sure, the excitement and urge to see Joshua v Fury that existed last year has vanished. If we do have a battle of Britain, the sportsbook offers Fury at 3/10 with the draw 20/1 and Joshua 5/2.

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