Oleksandr Usyk has defeated Anthony Joshua with scores of 117-112, 116-112, 115-113 to become the new unified world heavyweight champion.
Joshua was defending his three world titles for the second time since snatching them back from Andy Ruiz Jr two years ago.
He had been out the ring since stopping Kubrat Pulev last Christmas – and had been poised to fight fellow world champion Tyson Fury this summer.
And the visitor landed a stinging left hook in the third round as he looked to press home his early advantage before he was served a reminder of Joshua’s power when the champion landed a right hand on the bell.
The home crowd did their best to rally their man to a response but he looked short of ideas through the fourth round.
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Joshua’s right hand remained dangerous but he was unable to set up the shot with any conviction while Usyk’s precise movement was still giving cause for concern.
By the halfway stage it was still the challenger who was in control on the scorecards but Joshua offered a glimmer of hope by landing with his right hand towards the end of the sixth.
But Usyk had no intention of taking a step back and rocked Joshua with a left hand in the seventh round which sent him staggering towards the ropes.
Joshua switched his attacks to the body in the eighth round as he looked to soften up Usyk and narrow his likely deficit on the scorecards.
Usyk began to show the first signs of fatigue in the ninth round as Joshua managed to close the distance and force his rival to hold on.
Joshua’s right eye was beginning to swell up by the 10th round as both men showed an increasing willingness to trade at close quarters.
And Usyk looked to take full advantage of Joshua’s injury as his left hand continued to find its target in the penultimate session.
Joshua was left needing a stoppage in the final three minutes – but instead it was Usyk who finished strongly.
Ultimately, it was left up to the judges to seal Joshua’s fate and condemn him to a second professional defeat. (Mirror)