By Sam Volz: Promoter Eddie Hearn is vowing that Anthony Joshua “will be back” after losing a narrow 12-round split decision against pound-for-pound #1 fighter in the sport, Oleksandr Usyk on Saturday night.
Hearn admitted that Joshua (24-3, 22 KOs) hadn’t done enough to earn the win by giving away the last three rounds of the contest to Usyk.
Going into the ninth, Hearn says he had it 5-4 either way, and he told Joshua that he felt he had Usyk ready to be beaten after a strong round.
Unfortunately for Joshua, things collapsed for him after the ninth, as he was outworked by Usyk in rounds 10, 11, and 12.
The scores were 116-112, 115-113 for Usyk, and 115-113 for Joshua.
“No, I didn’t think he won. I thought it was a very close fight, but I thought it was 115-113 because of the last three rounds,” said Eddie Hearn to talkSPORT about his view that Usyk deserved the win over Joshua.
“That tenth round for Usyk, I couldn’t believe it. I ran over [to Joshua] at the end of the ninth, and I said, ‘You got him, he’s done.’ And he just came out, and it’s one of the best heavyweight performances in a round that I’ve ever seen, and he [Usyk] deserved the win.
“Those three rounds [10, 11, and 12], he ran away with the fight. Very close [after the ninth]. 5-4 either way, but very close. I thought to myself, ‘He’s going to win these rounds and win the fight.’
“This is why he’s [Usyk] pound-for-pound #1, and AJ, you saw his reaction. It’s passion; he was devastated, and he wanted to win so bad, but he wasn’t quite good enough.
“He lost a split decision to the pound-for-pound #1. I hope he’s not too ashamed of that because it was a much better performance than the first fight. When you’re in with the pound-for-pound #1, it’s very difficult to overcome him.
“I still felt he [Joshua] started a bit slow, and I still feel he needed to let his hands go more. It’s easier said than done. We said that in the build-up. He hurt him repeatedly to the body and head in the ninth.
“Maybe, he’ll kick himself a little bit for not edging on earlier in the fight, but again, those championship rounds from Usyk were just incredible.
“Usyk is free to do what he wishes, and he’s going to move forward. He’ll probably try and fight for the undisputed championship. We’ll see what happens. AJ, people were talking during this build-up about him retiring.
“When you lose a split decision to the pound-for-pound #1, why would you even contemplate? It’s about passion; it’s about you still want it. Look, you saw how much he still wants it by his post-fight interview, but he’s going to take some time.
“I’d like to see him back out, maybe even in late December. Dillian Whyte, Deontay Wilder; there are so many guys in the top . There are even some Brits coming through, maybe in a couple of fights as well..
“Hrgovic, he’s now mandatory for Usyk. We got to see what he [Joshua] wants to do ultimately, and it’s going to be a tough defeat to take, but he’ll be back,” said Hearn about Joshua.