The boxing world was universal in its praise of new heavyweight king Oleksandr Usyk after his magnificent and conclusive points triumph over Anthony Joshua at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Saturday night.
The Ukrainian proved far too accomplished for his physically bigger foe, dictating the last four rounds and easing to a unanimous decision. Usyk became a two-division champion in majestic style and was widely lauded for replicating his boxing mastery at cruiser among the land of the giants.
Joshua, meanwhile, saw his long-trumpeted undisputed title clash with WBC king Tyson Fury go up in smoke and must undergo some soul-searching and a vast improvement, if he is to topple Usyk in their expected rematch.
Below are some of the immediate thoughts of boxing’s luminaries as a new heavyweight king was crowned.
Lennox Lewis, three-time world heavyweight champion: “@usykaa 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. [For Anthony Joshua] it’s not the end of the road, but u can’t be so tentative or wait till the 8th round to turn it on. Learn from this and improve.”
George Foreman, two-time world heavyweight champion: “Saw the Joshua/Usyk fight: AJ seemed afraid? He lost his identity. (should I be cautious (go 12) attack with my power?) Usyk typical southpaw “if you won’t hit me I’ll be award and hit you” something’s wrong not AJ he took his punishments. Who are you AJ?”
Joe Joyce, leading heavyweight contender: “Congrats to Usyk. Now I want my shot. I wont let him breathe.”
Frank Bruno, former WBC heavyweight champion: “Morning you know waking up after a big defeat is 1 of the worst feelings imaginable, it’s a long tough road for AJ now it’s time to dig deep reevaluate. The best man won last night but that does not have to be the end of the AJ story. I’ve been there I came back. Have a good day.”
Andy Lee, former WBO middleweight champion, co-trainer of WBC heavyweight king Tyson Fury: “Usyk with the bottle of Ballygowen. Fair play.”
Claressa Shields, three-weight world champion, self-styled GWOAT: “Damn congrats @usykaa the new heavyweight champion. I knew it was gonna be tough but I just knew AJ would come back & handle business. Done shook up the heavyweight division damn!!!!!! That’s how you take a championship. Not what I wanted to see. But he definitely earned it. Congrats @usykaa.”
Andre Ward, former world super-middleweight and light-heavyweight champion: “Usyk won the fight going away! 8-4 or 9-3 for Usyk easy! S/O to the judges.”
Official Twitter account of Ukraine: “WHAT A VICTORY! Ukrainian Cossack OLEKSANDR USYK defeats Anthony Joshua and becomes the new WBA, WBO, IBF HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION!! Congratulations, you are the best @usykaa.”
Chris Eubank Jr, WBA No.1 middleweight contender: “You can’t win em all. Joshua will be back. Congratulations to Usyk, top performance.”
Danny Garcia, two-weight world champion: “Usyk is a master boxer.”
Teddy Atlas, former trainer of heavyweight champions Mike Tyson (amateur days), Michael Moorer and Alexander Povetkin: “Congratulations to Usyk, he did what I had predicted he would, winning the Heavyweight Title as Holyfield did after being Cruiser Wt. Champion. And also Congratulations to the judges, you didn’t screw it up!”
Matt Christie, Boxing News Editor: “After the loss to Andy Ruiz, and again tonight after coming up short against Usyk, Anthony Joshua came out and told the media he lost to a better man. That is rare and all credit to him.”
Michael Hunter, heavyweight contender and former Usyk foe: “Called it and they called me a hater. Hunter v Usyk II.”
Mike Coppinger, ESPN.com writer and master of sources: “Rob McCracken is a top trainer but I’d love to know what in the world he was thinking with the strategy to have AJ outbox Usyk. That was never going to happen. Joshua needed to push Usyk backward, lean on him on the inside and go to the body. He also should have come in heavier.”
Sam Jones, manager of heavyweight contender Joe Joyce: “Huge credit to AJ could have ducked and swerved Usyk but never ducked the challenge, he’ll be back but you have to take to Usyk there’s no other way!”
Main image: Mark Robinson/Matchroom Boxing.