Anthony Joshua faces arguably the biggest fight of his illustrious career against Oleksandr Usyk tonight. AJ wants to become a three-weight world champion as he contests a massive heavyweight title rematch in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
The stakes could hardly be higher for Joshua, who simply cannot afford to lose again if he wants to maintain his place among the heavyweight elite, regain the belts he lost 11 months ago and finally go on to meet British rival Tyson Fury in a mammoth showdown to become the first undisputed champion of boxing’s blue-riband division since Lennox Lewis.
The ‘Rage on the Red Sea’ had an entertaining undercard, including victory in a final IBF title eliminator for Filip Hrgovic. Callum Smith also earned a shot at Artur Beterbiev, while Badou Jack controversially won a split decision. Ramla Ali produced an emphatic first-round knockout after Ben Whittaker picked up his second professional win.
Boxing schedule and results
Oleksandr Usyk vs Anthony Joshua
Filip Hrgovic bt Zhilei Zhang
Bader Al Samreen bt Fuad Tarverdi
Callum Smith bt Mathieu Bauderlique
Badou Jack bt Richard Rivera
Ziyad Almaayouf bt Jose Alatorre
Ramla Ali bt Crystal Garcia Nova
Andrew Tabiti bt James Wilson
Ben Whittaker bt Petar Nosic
Daniel Lapin bt Jozef Jurko
Traycho Georgiev bt Rashed ‘Money Kicks’ Belhasa
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Usyk says he is certain that Tyson Fury is not really retired and wants to fight him in a mammoth clash to crown the first undisputed heavyweight champion since Lennox Lewis.
Fingers crossed! What an occasion that would be.
That was so odd from Joshua, who has now retreated backstage.
He simultaneously made himself look silly but gave plenty of deserved kudos to Usyk, who now rightly has his moment, draped in the colours of Ukraine.
This is bizarre from Joshua, who has the microphone and is ranting with plenty of swear words thrown in.
Let Usyk have his moment! Really not a good look.
Something has really upset Joshua here.
He’s furious at something and initially goes to storm backstage before eventually going back to the ring.
He appeared to grab two of the belts and then threw them down.
Joshua is raging here, arguing with Usyk as he takes the Ukraine flag off his shoulders.
Usyk beats Joshua by split decision
All class from Joshua, who holds the Ukraine flag aloft with Usyk before the cards are read out.
115-113 Joshua, 115-113 Usyk, 116-112 Usyk – it’s a split-decision win for Usyk, who retains his WBA (Super), IBF, WBO and IBO world heavyweight titles, as well as picking up The Ring belt.
Not sure what judge Glenn Feldman was watching… he gave it to Joshua by two rounds!
Tears from an emotional Usyk. What an achievement after such a difficult year.
Can he coax Tyson Fury out of retirement for that monumental undisputed showdown?
Both warriors share a touching embrace after another furious 12 rounds.
Usyk sinks to his knees in the middle of the ring.
We await the official scorecards, but surely no doubt about the result tonight.
Joshua vs Usyk
Joshua is going for it with a nice body shot and crisp right upstairs, but the ultra-slippery Usyk comes back with a stinging counter.
AJ is trying to go for it, to his credit, but Usyk is dancing around and spinning off him, landing all the time.
A determined Joshua is trying his utmost, but he hasn’t got the necessary energy or strength left now.
Usyk is catching him every time he comes forward.
THE BELL SOUNDS! SURELY ANOTHER WIN FOR OLEKSANDR USYK!
Joshua vs Usyk
Usyk feels that hard body shot from Joshua that momentarily forces him back against the ropes.
But he brushes it off and carries on with a familiar approach, moving all over the place even 11 rounds into such a gruelling contest.
Joshua is swinging a bit wildly now and Usyk is playing with him at times, peppering him with scoring shots, mostly notably to the body.
What a fighter he is.
Joshua needs a knockout in the final round, it’s that simple. Otherwise this is a third professional defeat with his prospects at the elite heavyweight level heavily damaged.
Here we go with the 12th…
Joshua vs Usyk
Into the penultimate round in Saudi Arabia.
Joshua has had his moments tonight, but surely needs a knockout from here.
He needs to reach deep into his energy reserves and muster the strength to find that one big onslaught.
Otherwise the belts are staying with Usyk.
Joshua vs Usyk
What a start to the 10th from Usyk, who comes roaring back after that onslaught with some clubbing blows.
Usyk is teeing off on Joshua now, with the Briton open and an easy target with his feet square.
BUT HE THEN LANDS A MASSIVE RIGHT HAND OF HIS OWN THAT JOLTS THE CHAMPION!
Usyk’s legs look a little shaky, but he has the heart of a lion and starts letting his hands go with some big shots once again.
Superb drama in Jeddah!
Joshua leans back onto the ropes as he feels the pace of this bout.
Usyk is putting together some lovely combinations late in the 10th, going to body and head as the heavy shots rain down on Joshua.
A massive round for Usyk.
U.S. beats England, 0-0
What psychopath called the long-awaited United States men’s national team’s Black Friday showdown against England a scoreless draw? I’ll have whatever you’re drinking. After gaining my bearings after that stiff cocktail, and realizing Matt Turner nor Jordan Pickford allowing a goal wasn’t just fallacy, it yielded a simple consequence for the American’s group-stage finale on Tuesday against Iran: win and the USMNT advances to the knockout stage. Lose? It’d be on the next flight out of Qatar. Tie? Who the fuck plays for a tie? It’ll come down to goal differential for you marks.
The American’s play in Qatar will draw plenty of comparisons to their efforts at the 2010 World Cup. Ties against England, yes that game with Robert Green’s all-time gaffe in net, and Slovenia to start group play. The exact same stakes were in the balance for the USMNT’s group finale against Algeria. A Landon Donovan extra-time goal was the difference as the USA went from eliminated to group winners with one kick of the ball. One goal against Iran could very well be the difference for the United States.
The goal for the USMNT coming into Friday’s game was proving it could hang with the Three Lions. In the four years Gregg Berhalter has led the Yanks, they’ve played an opponent of that quality exactly never. Zero minutes against a world-class team, especially in a competitive environment. The Americans not only hung with the country they gained their independence from, the USA would’ve won under Queensberry Rules. The first 20 minutes for the USMNT were tough, but it didn’t concede a goal. After that, the Stars and Stripes got the better of the Union Jack.
While the United Kingdom beats up on each other, all that stands between the knockout stage is Iran. What American fan wouldn’t have taken a victory over Iran to make the final 16 a week ago? You would’ve been crazy to want more. Iran hasn’t looked strong in either game so far in the tournament. The USA has had time in both games against the U.K. where it has looked organized and intimidating. It’s only yielded one goal.
Coming out of the game against Wales, the Americans felt lucky to get a point. After the draw against England, the Americans must feel like they can play with anyone. And their next game is against the team who gave up six goals to England. If the USA loses to Iran, Berhalter doesn’t come back stateside with a job. His overstated mindset of splitting the World Cup into two tournaments, the group stage and knockout stage, should be a great standard of how to evaluate the program going forward. Without seeing the USMNT in both of those phases, Berhalter shouldn’t be employed.
After two draws, Berhalter must make a few changes to his starting lineup. Do enough to not disrupt chemistry and facilitate the proper change to score more. Haji Wright didn’t get it done at striker and Josh Sargent at least looked comparable against Wales. We have yet to see Berhalter’s favorite coming into the tournament, Jesus Ferreira. I wouldn’t be shocked if he had a large shift against Iran. The USMNT has been looking for a consistent striker who can score in big games for about forever. It won’t be solved at this World Cup. Throw everything at the wall and see what sticks. Another change I’d make would be Tim Weah coming off the bench and starting Gio Reyna or Brenden Aaronson in his place. Even though Weah scored the USA’s only goal of the World Cup so far, he didn’t do much against England. The USMNT should give Iran a set of personnel it couldn’t have scouted together.
With that new-look USMNT, the must-win scenario looks much more attainable. Let’s not dismiss Iran completely here, it’s a solid soccer team. It did more than enough to make the World Cup. Let’s not also pretend like the Americans shouldn’t win this game with some ease at their best. We saw one of the best efforts from the USMNT in recent memory, albeit without a goal, against England. Now the Yanks must do it again with their World Cup lives at stake.
Reality check for England as World Cup 2022 hopefuls second-best to USA in deflating draw
Gareth Southgate’s side were booed off by their travelling fans after a pedestrian performance, which leaves the manager with a raft of questions to address ahead of Tuesday’s final group game against Wales and before the business end of the tournament gets under way in the knockouts.
The bigger picture is that England now have one foot in the last-16, and this result mirrored their second group game at Euro 2020, when they were held to a goalless draw by Scotland at Wembley but went on to reach the final.
That result sparked widespread criticism of Southgate and his players, which was vastly overblown in hindsight, so an element of calm is needed, particularly given the strange and warped conditions of this tournament.
Nonetheless, an impressive and hard-pressing USA side exposed flaws in England that were obviously not apparent in the 6-2 thrashing of Iran, and raises questions about Southgate’s setup and selections.
The US, who face a decisive final group game against Iran, were unfortunate not to win, with Christian Pulisic striking the bar and Weston McKennie firing a half-volley over from ten yards.
Jude Bellingham, who opened the scoring on Monday, was pressed out of the match by the USA’s excellent midfield three of Tyler Adams, McKennie and former England youth international Yunus Musah.
Bellingham was withdrawn with 20 minutes to go after what has to go down a lesson about the realities of this level for England’s prodigious teenager.
With the 19-year-old subdued by the US pressure, England struggled to establish a midfield foothold and the danger is that Gregg Berhalter’s team have now provided a blueprint which other teams can follow.
Southgate may need to introduce another midfielder for the knockouts or even against the Welsh, but then he would have to sacrifice a forward player. After such a promising start to the tournament, the England manager is back to having to make difficult compromises to balance his team.
Another question for Southgate was why he ignored Phil Foden, who remained an unused substitute as England struggled to find a spark.
When Southgate eventually turned to his bench, Jordan Henderson replaced Bellingham and Jack Grealish came on for Raheem Sterling, leading to an improvement, but Foden’s ingenuity and silk on the ball would surely have been beneficial as England toiled.
On the plus side, Southgate’s defence held firm and Harry Maguire was particularly impressive in another outing that will dampen doubts around the defender.
Southgate was alarmed by the lapses which allowed Mehdi Taremi to score two second-half consolation goals for Iran and demanded improved focus for the duration against the US.
While England were pedestrian going forward, John Stones and Maguire, winning his 50th cap, held firm at the back.
Stones was England’s brightest player for the first hour, twice getting across to make important interventions against Pulisic, while Maguire continued his encouraging start to the tournament with a series of defensive headers in the second half when the US piled in corners and crosses.
England did not follow Germany in protesting inside the colossal Al Bayt Stadium but back in London the Wembley arch was illuminated in rainbow colours ahead of the game – as the FA made their point to FIFA over armband-gate, albeit from afar.
Southgate predicted the game would be played at “100 miles an hour” but for most of the first 70 minutes there was only only side at the races.
England were hesitant and ponderous in and out of possession, a stark contrast to their aggression from the off against Iran, but the US were full of purpose and a constant threat on the counter-attack.
McKennie should have opened the scoring when he half-volleyed over from ten yards before Pulisic spanked a brilliant left-foot shot off the crossbar, with Jordan Pickford beaten.
England went close at either end of the half through Harry Kane and Mason Mount, who extended US goalkeeper Matt Turner, but would have been the more relieved at the half-time whistle.
The US faded in the second half in their 1-1 draw with Wales, unable to maintain the intensity of their press, and the big question after the interval was whether they could keep it up, particularly given England’s arsenal from the bench.
By contrast, the US only continued in their ascendency after the interval, and were soon camped in England’s half, sending in a succession of crosses and corners, expertly repelled by Stones and Maguire.
It was not until Southgate finally turned to his bench with the introductions of Henderson and Grealish, and latterly Marcus Rashford, that England were roused from their slumber.
Grealish provided some verve down the left flank and began finally asking questions of a US back line who must have expected a far sterner examination.
With England back on the front foot, Kane nearly nicked the victory with a stoppage-time header which flashed wide but three points would have been far more than Southgate’s side deserved.
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