Oleksandr Usyk landed a spectacular 39 punches on Anthony Joshua in the 10th after absorbing some huge shots in the previous two rounds.
Under the lights in Saudi Arabia, Usyk retained his belts in a split decision victory over Joshua. The punch stats via CompuBox tell the story of an improved AJ coming up short against a Ukrainian who, in the championship rounds, simply refused to be defeated – embodying the adage that some fighters perform at their best when faced with a real challenge.
Joshua managed to outland the champion in only three of the twelve rounds. This was at its starkest in the 9th, where many thought he had finally cracked the code and hurt Usyk. Over the course of the three minutes, the former champion landed 28 punches to the Ukrainian’s 9.
That momentum shifted quickly, though. The 39 punches from the champion in the 10th is the most any fighter has landed in a round against AJ. Add to that CompuBox’s observation that Usyk’s 170 total punches landed were the most from any Joshua opponent and it’s hard not to brand it the toughest fight of the Brit’s career.
After his incredible fight back in the 10th, Usyk went on to land over double the punches Joshua could (40 – 19) in the final two rounds, leaving no doubt that he was a worthy winner. The former undisputed cruiserweight champion systematically took apart any hope of a win for a fatigued AJ.
That late rally from Usyk was perhaps most surprising to his opponent, who made a rambling and emotional speech following the fight. We saw a man processing the fact that he had fought his best only to be met with failure. He has since apologised for how he handled the loss.
Whilst we know that these stats alone often don’t paint a full picture, it’s hard not to see them reinforcing the controversy around the official scorecards.