By Babatunde Ogunrinde, Lagos.
Some boxing fans in the sporting fraternity on Sunday expressed shock over the loss of Anthony Joshua to Oleksandr Usyk in a split decision in the world heavyweight championship bout in Saudi Arabia.
With the victory, Usyk is still the world heavyweight champion, after beating Joshua second time running via a split decision.
The first judge gave it 115-113 to Joshua, the second 115-113 to Usyk and the third 116-112 to Usyk, marking yet another victorious outing world for Usyk.
Usyk later shook hands and hugged Joshua.
He then dedicated the victory to the people of Ukraine, who are currently at war with Russia.
Meanwhile, some boxing buffs in Lagos were surprised that the Nigerian-born Joshua was leading the scores until the 9th round, but failed to lift himself in the 10th round of the fight.
Uzor Odigbo, a sports commentator, expressed disappointment and asked why Joshua allowed Usyk to creep back into the match when he (Joshua) was way ahead on points until the 10th crucial round.
“He did well but could not finish up when it mattered, this is similar to the first fight. In the heavyweight category, you just have to keep fighting and pushing till the fight ends.
“I wish Joshua the best of luck while trying to rebuild his boxing career; he really needs to go back to the drawing board and start all over,” Odigbo said.
Stanley Ajawara, a sports analyst, said that Joshua would need at least two serious mandatory challenges without belt before fighting for the belts again.
He said that he lost out to a better boxer who knew how to raise his game when it mattered, which was what the heavyweight division was all about.
“Joshua lost the bout at the 10th round; perhaps, it was Usyk’s strategy to keep the pace and lift it beyond Joshua in the 10th,11th and 12th decisive rounds.
“Joshua would really need to dig in deeper if he ever wants to be a world champion again; but so far, he has left a mark in the boxing history,” Ajawara said.
Kennedy Onome, another boxing buff, said that Joshua went to sleep when it mattered most and lost what was meant to be the revenge mission to a headstrong opponent.
“Joshia lost to a tougher opponent. Indeed, split decisions are always painful loses but he has to move on and see how he can rebuild himself in the boxing world.
“He went to sleep and should have sustained the momentum that got him the clear lead all through from the first round till the 9th round of the epic clash.
“At a point it looked certain that Joshua could push the fight to a trilogy but unfortunately, he could not dig in deeper to land the necessary blows,” Onome said.
Segun Aderogba, a civil servant, expressed disappointment, as Joshua was the best in the category to take any fighter to the limit.
“He lost out when he should be on cruise control and it was almost similar to what happened in their first clash in England.
“Joshua would have to go and queue up now because there is a long list of contenders, who are desiring to hold on to the belt.
“If he is courageous enough, he can one day still emerge as the world greatest champion in the heavyweight category,” Aderogba said.