Ukraine’s Oleksandr Usyk dethroned world heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua in his own backyard when he earned a unanimous points decision in front of a sell-out crowd at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Saturday.
The 34-year-old former undisputed cruiserweight world champion put on a masterclass to silence the vast majority of the 67,000 fans who packed into the huge arena.
Usyk proved too elusive for Joshua throughout an enthralling contest and landed the cleaner shots, finishing with a flurry in round 12 as he went in search of a knockout.
Joshua stayed on his feet but the decision was a formality as Usyk claimed the WBA, WBO, IBF and IBO belts.
Former Olympic champion Usyk, who was contesting only his third professional heavyweight fight, follows in the footsteps of compatriots Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko who dominated the division for a decade from 2004-15.
For Joshua, a second career defeat was a crushing blow and scuppered his hopes of a unification showdown with fellow Briton Tyson Fury, the WBC holder, who takes on American Deontay Wilder in Las Vegas on Oct. 9.
Even the most diehard Joshua fans had to admit that their man had been schooled by a silky opponent who rarely looked ruffled even when sustaining a cut above his eye late on.
Joshua gave the crowd little to cheer about and appeared to run out of ideas against his southpaw opponent who was ahead throughout the fight.
“This means a lot for me. The fight went the way I expected it to go. There were moments when Anthony pushed me hard but it was nothing special,” Usyk told Sky Sports.
“I had no objective to knock him out because my corner pushed me not to do that. In the beginning, I tried to hit him hard but then I stuck to my job.”