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In Better Performance Than Billy Conn vs. Joe Louis I, Usyk Outmaneuvers Joshua, Wins World Heavyweight Title

By Robert Brizel, Head Real Combat Media Boxing Correspondent

London, UK (September 26th, 2021)– While other lower-weight fighters have come up from light heavyweight and cruiserweight to challenge for the world heavyweight title, like Evander Holyfield, Michael Spinks, Michael Moorer and Bob Foster, few had the polish and talent Oleksandr Usyk has today. In the process, Usyk, who joined Evander Holyfield and David Haye as the only cruiserweights to win the world heavyweight title, ruined a potential 377 million pounds pot of gold purse for Joshua versus Tyson Fury titular unification super-fight in 2022. Usyk, 19-0, 13 knockouts, Oxnard, California via Ukraine, is universally recognized as the greatest cruiserweight of all time. Such a label does not guarantee success transitioning to the higher-weight class. Usyk proved he had transitioned to a complete heavyweight, easily outpointing Anthony Joshua, 24-2 with 22 knockouts, Watford, Hertfordshire, United Kingdom, to win the World Boxing Association, World Boxing Organisation, International Boxing Federation and International Boxing Organization World Heavyweight titles in the main event at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in Tottenham, United Kingdom, on September 25, 2021. Over 66,000 fight fans were in attendance. Scoring appeared neutral and fair.

The southpaw Usyk started the bout at a furious pace, outmaneuvering Joshua with a fast jab and left hand lead while cutting off the ring substantially, and limiting Joshua’s available angles with superior foot placement. Former WBC World Cruiserweight champion and heavyweight contender Tony Bellew of Liverpool warned Joshua Usyk is a genius, and not to get lured into a boxing match. Usyk took the bout to center ring, did not hold, and did lure Joshua into a boxing match. Joshua consistently got beaten to the punch.

Usyk appeared to win rounds one, two, three and four, putting Joshua four points down on the scorecards early, in a position similar to the late World Middleweight champion Carlos Monzon in his last fight with Rodrigo Valdez in July 1977. Monzon lost the first three rounds to Valdez and got decked in the second round for a flash knockdown, putting him four points down. After round three, Monzon had to win the next five consecutive rounds to go ahead on the scorecards at the start of round ten, which he did. A.J. won rounds five and six, eight and nine. Usyk won rounds seven, ten, eleven and twelve. Usyk staggered Joshua backward with an overhand left in round seven, and had Joshua, with a swollen right eye, in trouble late in the twelfth round, so the outcome was not in doubt.

Like his two bouts with Andy Ruiz, Joshua was unable to thrown anything which hurt Usyk or Ruiz. Usyk, who was in closed camp for six months in isolation from his wife and three children, did the work. Usyk stated after the bout he looked for the knockout in round one, but his trainer told him not to do that, and just to box, which is what he did from the second round on. Usyk remained a human fly, fighting at super speed, and all Joshua could hope to do was to attempt to outwork Usyk in center ring. Occasionally, Joshua held or tried to hold, while Usyk did not, demonstrating some frustration with the direction of the bout. Joshua had no “Plan B”, and got stuck fighting Usyk in center ring.

Usyk, a 2008 Olympian, appeared to be a bulked up version of Rocky Marciano. Rocky fought in the zone of 184 to 189 pounds during his career. Usyk had to go up in weight in the modern era. Like Marciano, Usyk never took a backward step, brought the bout to center ring and made it a technical war, never taking a backward step. Even without going up in weight, Marciano would have won this bout by style and movement. Usyk, like Marciano, had to get inside with a smaller frame, and proved he could get inside and win.

When Billy Conn fought Joe Louis for the first time in July 1941, World Light Heavyweight champion Conn outmaneuvered Louis and outpointed him for 12 rounds. When Conn got cocky in the 13th round and tried to knock Louis out, Louis landed two solid rights to the jaw which knocked Conn out with only two seconds left in the round. Usyk only had to go 12 rounds here, and had a trainer giving better advice after the first round, so as to avoid the Billy Conn trap of eighty years ago. Usyk avoided the trap of trying to go up against Joshua’s power at a higher weight. The concept is tempting, but for a cruiserweight moving up above 200 points to the higher big money heavyweight division, power cannot be the determiner. Usyk appeared slightly smaller than A.J. but compensating with superior technique.

Forced into center ring to do battle, Joshua landed 123 punches overall to Usyk’s 148. Both combatants landed 52 jabs apiece. Usyk won the bout on power punches, landing 96 power shots to Joshua’s 71. Joshua threw 629 punches, with an accuracy rate of 19 percent, as Usyk slipped 518 of Joshua’s punches thrown! Usyk threw 529 punches, with an accuracy rate of 28 percent. Usyk landed nearly ten percent more of his punches thrown, and rocked A.J. from time to time. Nothing A.J. threw appeared to phase Usyk. The bottom line is Usyk did the work, and wanted it more. Joshua has a mandatory rematch clause. No way of telling if A.J. will invoke the mandatory rematch clause immediately (likely), Usyk fights the winner of Tyson Fury versus Deontay Wilder, or defend against another contender. Based on the style fought by Usyk, Joshua might not be favored the second time. Usyk, unlike the blubbery Andy Ruiz in his rematch with Joshua, Usyk is a hard-working matador who puts it all on the table, and will show up to win with better conviction in a rematch.

Result: Oleksandr Usyk Win 12 Anthony Joshua, heavyweights

Scoring: 117-112, 116-112, 115-113 for Usyk. Referee: Michael Alexander. Clean bout.

Tottenham Hotspur Stadium Undercard Bouts

Lawrence Okolie KO 3 Dilan Prasovic, Cruiserweights

Okolie retains World Boxing Organisation Cruiserweight title (1:57)

Okolie, now 17-0, had Montenegro’s 15-0 Prasovic down in second round. Okolie knocked out Prasovic to his knees with a pinpoint accurate left-hand body shot to the rib cage.

Florian Marku Win Split Decision 10 Maxim Prodan, Welterweights

Marku wins International Boxing Federation International Welterweight title

Albania’s Marku, now 9-0-1, upsets Romania’s unbeaten 19-0-1 Prodan.

Callum Smith KO 2 Gilbert Lenin Castillo, Light Heavyweights

Former WBA Super Middleweight champ 28-1 Smith moves up to 175 pounds. Smith brutally knocked out Castillo backwards with a right hand, leaving Castillo unconscious in violent convulsions on the canvas, stretchered out to the hospital. Castillo recovered well enough to be discharged after a battery of tests, but will be placed on medical suspension.

Christopher Ousley Win 10 Khasan Baysangurov, middleweights

Ousley wins the vacant WBA Inter-Continental Middleweight title

Chicago’s Ousley, now 13-0, upsets Russia’s Baysangurov, now 21-2.

Campbell Hatton Win 6 Sonni Martinez, Lightweights

4-0 Hatton, son of former world champion Ricky Hatton, outpoints 2-5 Martinez 58-57.

Daniel Lapin TKO 4 Pawel Martyniuk, Light Heavyweights

5-0 Polish light heavyweight prospect Lapin stops 4-8 Martyniuk. The opening bout on the card.




Robert Brizel - Head Boxing Correspondent
Robert Brizel - Head Boxing Correspondent
Robert is the Head Boxing Correspondent for Real Combat Media Boxing since 2013. Robert is also a photographer and ringside reporter for the RCM Tri State region which includes NJ, NY and PA. Robert conducts exclusive interviews, provides historical boxing articles and provides editorial ringside coverage of major boxing events. You can contact or follow Robert on Facebook and by email at