Former heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis was impressed with the tactical performance by Oleksandr Usyk (19-0, 13 KOs) with his 12 round unanimous decision victory over IBF/WBA/WBO heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua (24-2, 22 KOs) last Saturday night.
Usyk used a lot of upper body movement, fast feet, and his accurate left hand to defeat a befuddled Joshua in front of 70,000 of his fans at the Tottenham Hotspurs Stadium in London England.
Lewis says Joshua shouldn’t have waited until the eighth round to go on the attack of Usyk, as he let a good portion of the fight get away from him by not attacking.
Lennox believes that Joshua can come back from the loss, but he’s got to learn from the defeat. Lewis didn’t say what Joshua needs to do to improve, but it’s apparent that he needs to throw more punches.
Specifically, Joshua must fight on the front foot and throw sustained combinations as he used in the early days.
The defeat for Joshua, his second in his last four fights, puts his career on shaky ground. It will be tough for Joshua to come back from this, considering he’s still showing the same chin problems that plagued him earlier in his career.
Lewis says it’s not over for Joshua
“@usykaa [Usyk] showed his pedigree in the ring tonight. Amateur Champion. Olympic Gold medalist. Undisputed Cruiserweight Champion and now World Heavyweight champion. It pays to take the long road, put in the hard work, and aggressively go after your goals,” said @LennoxLewis.
“Gotta give it up to @usykaa on a great tactical performance tonight. For @anthonyjoshua it’s not the end of the road, but you can’t be so tentative or wait till the 8th round to turn it on. Learn from this and improve. #JoshuaUsyk,” said Lennox Lewis.
It’s not the end of the world for Joshua, but if he loses a second time to Usyk, it could be the beginning of the end. Absorbing one loss to Usyk won’t be easy for Joshua, but he can come back from it, and his boxing fans will still be showing interest in his fights.
But if Joshua loses his next fight to Usyk, you’ll see fans jumping the AJ ship, fleeing before it goes down completely. Another loss to Usyk would mean that Joshua will have been beaten in 3 out of his last five fights since 2019.
If you lose that many times in a short period like Joshua has, it’s a sign that it’s almost over. Fans will begin drifting away in mass, the money won’t be the same for Joshua, and he’ll no longer be a world champion.
The way Joshua’s career is imploding is similar to how Evander Holyfield’s career fell apart during his career, but he was absorbing losses to really tough opposition.
Even when Holyfield’s career was coming off the tracks in his early 30s, you wouldn’t have seen him lose to Andy Ruiz Jr. or Usyk. Holyfield was a combination puncher, and that’s what you got to be to beat Usyk.
Tony Bellew reacts to Joshua’s loss
“Usyk is the best fighter I’ve ever faced. He’s amazing. You can’t underestimate,” said Tony Bellew to iFL TV. “Look what he’s done. He just beat somebody he shouldn’t have been able to.
“He [Usyk] drew him into a boxing match. That’s the one thing he didn’t need to do. In a boxing match, you can’t do that. No one is going to beat him [Usyk] in a boxing match.
“I don’t care [who they are]. No one is going to outbox him. Yes, it is,” said Bellew when asked if the results were fair.
Joshua had made it abundantly clear for weeks/months that he planned on boxing Usyk rather than using his size and power to try and fight.
As a result, it shouldn’t be a shock that Joshua boxed the entire 12 round fight last Saturday night. Joshua might not have been comfortable with the idea of unloading on Usyk, leaving himself open to being countered, and winding up getting knocked out again.
The way that Joshua used to fight only worked against the lesser opposition that he was facing back in the early days. He could afford to throw a flurry of shots to crush the opposition that was being fed to him.
Unfortunately, Joshua knows that he can’t fight like that against guys like Usyk, Andy Ruiz Jr., Deontay Wilder, and Tyson Fury.