Anthony Joshua has lost his world titles for the second time in four fights. Joshua, favourite of many, lost to Oleksandr Usyk.
Joshua was on the back foot from the opening bell as Usyk made a fast start to his attempt to become a two-weight world champion.
And the Ukrainian had his rival in trouble at several points in the fight – and almost stopped him in the dying seconds with Joshua finishing the bout backed up on the ropes.
All three judges then awarded the fight to Usyk by scores of 117-112, 116-112 and 115-113.
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.
But Fury was instead ordered to fight Deontay Wilder for a third time, leaving Joshua to accept the challenge of Usyk.
The Ukrainian bulked up to heavyweight having conquered the cruiserweight division.
As the first bell rang, Usyk looked to shed his reputation as a slow-starter. He landed the best shots of the opening round via his left hand as he looked to flummox Joshua with his movement.
Joshua looked to be busier with his jab in the second stanza but was struggling to use his considerable height and weight advantages to pressure Usyk.
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.
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.
Culled from Mirror