The Ring Awards 2021 – Event of the Year: Anthony Joshua vs. Oleksandr Usyk
Heavyweights Anthony Joshua and Oleksandr Usyk contested what The Ring Magazine has deemed the Event of The Year on September 25 for the IBF, WBA and WBO belts held by the Briton on a night at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, where the walls came tumbling down.
Styles make fights, as one of boxing’s most truthful axioms runs, and it was there in Technicolor at the soccer stadium, witnessed by 68,000 fans live in a raucous melee and by the millions watching screens around the world. This was Joshua’s fifth giant stadium fight in the U.K., a total of 320,000 fans having filled Wembley Stadium in London twice and the Principality Stadium in Cardiff on two occasions. The atmosphere at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium was off the scale, full of jubilance, given that it was the first huge fight in a stadium in the U.K. since the plight of COVID-19.
Usyk proved just too good on the night, and Joshua indulged his opponent in boxing, not bullying him. The challenger carried into the ring 10 times more amateur experience – 350 bouts to Joshua’s 35 – and a style and ring generalship that the British fighter had not experienced in his eight-year professional career. And oh, how that showed. Usyk’s ring nickname, “The Cat,” couldn’t have been more apt for the fighter of Cossack descent.
Usyk claimed a unanimous decision by scores of 117-112, 116-112 and 115-113.
Joshua’s assessment was honest. He is a good winner, and a good loser, for better or worse. “It was a good chess match. I’m just learning and studying this game. It was a great lesson. I’m not a sulker. This is a blessed opportunity to fight for the heavyweight championship of the world. I’m not going to go home and cry about it. Sulking is a waste of time. It’s all about experiences, and you have to trust the process. I feel I had a good foothold in the fight and I’m going to build on it. I just want to get back to the gym and improve…” (The full story, written by Gareth A. Davies, will appear in the March 2022 issue of The Ring.)
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