David did not quite slay Goliath with one slingshot but he reduced the world heavyweight champion to impotence by bombarding him with every punch in the manual of prize-fighting.
Anthony Joshua lost his collection of belts to a master of the boxing arts who bamboozled him and silenced the London majority on the new Tottenham Stadium’s first fight night.
He may also have forfeited, at the very least, for the time being, the hundred million dollars which had been awaiting him in a super-fight with Tyson Fury.
The Gypsy King had warned AJ to be at his very best but Olexsdandr Usyk, with his full range of all the brilliant boxing talents, never allowed London’s giant to get into his powerful stride.
Round after round went by with Joshua lumbering after the bewildering maestro of movement, rapier southpaw jabbing, lightning combinations and rasping left hands.
When he tried to impose his size with lunges it came too late and lacked belief.
It was sad to a British world champion so diminished but at the same time, it was a delight to witness such a genius craftsman go to work.
The fight was effectively over by halftime in this football ground and the odd flourish from Joshua was nowhere near enough to turn the scoreline.
Usyk was never going to be diverted from joining Evander Holyfield and David Haye among the ranks of cruiserweight kings to be crowned world heavyweight champion.
The three official scores for a unanimous decision – 117-112, 116-112, 115-113- flattered Joshua. On my card, he was swamped by 118-112.
The attention an exhausted Joshua needed in his corner at the end, not least for a damaged eye, and the probability of a trip to the hospital also told the upset story.
As did the muted crowd who did not get the jubilant night they had come expecting to see.
The trains to stations within walking distance of the new home of the Spurs were as socially distanced as tins of sardines.
The majority of this human tidal wave refrained from cooling off in the bars, hurrying instead to begin filling the 67,000 seat hours before Usyk and Joshua would come to the ring.
So desperate was the appetite to take in the atmosphere of British boxing’s first big-crowd night out since the onset of Covid.
When Joshua’s arrival at the ground lit up the big screens they gave vent to roars which he could hear in the bowels of the building and he responded with a military salute.
Where he was smiling and relaxed as he chatted with his team, the normally jocular Usyk was stern-faced, serious and focussed on messages on his mobile.
Pale-faced, too, although throughout the long week of build-up to what he has called the biggest fight of his life that had been his customary pallor.
Usyk steadfastly denied any hint of nerves about facing the bigger, stronger, natural heavyweight champion but Joshua had reminded him: ‘It’s very different facing me in the ring than at the weigh-in.’
Whether the proof of that would be forthcoming in this glorious setting was the major question of the night.
Glimpses of evidence to support that contention had come when the former undisputed world cruiserweight champion had failed to put any real dent in Dereck Chisora despite winning his second fight at heavyweight on points.
But we were looking for a sense of urgency in Joshua to get the job done before being drawn into a prolonged and complex contest by one of the most highly technical boxers in the world.
Not that Usyk’s chin had ever shown so much as a hint of vulnerability during his undefeated dominance at the lower weight – nor against Chisora for that matter. And he has added a few pounds of muscle since then.
The working title for this fight read Journey To Undisputed and Fury was among those with a vested interest in Joshua being victorious. Not as much money in beating Usyk and the long-awaited mega-fight would be at the least delayed even further.
The mindless ritual booing of the foreign anthem was followed by an ear-splitting rendition of God Save The Queen.
Then Usyk made the long walk to the ring in the centre circle of a football field to a fairly muted reception.
The champion came among us all smiles and glad-handing those of his followers within touching distance, to flames and a fusillade of fireworks.
Source: Daily Mail