Ukraine’s Oleksandr Usyk retained his world heavyweight title with a split-decision victory in a rematch with Anthony Joshua in his fourth bout in the division in Saudi Arabia on Saturday.
The 35 year old Ukrainian Usyk, who knocked out the defending champion in London last year, faces an upgraded Joshua but knocks him out to set up a potential unification bout with England’s Tyson Fury.
“I want to thank God for the help that he gave me today,” Usyk told the crowd at the 12,000-seat King Abdullah Sports City Arena in Jeddah.
“I give this victory to my country, to my family, to my team and to all the military who are defending the country,” added Usyk.
The match was watched on free-to-air television by millions of Ukrainians living under Russian aggression. Usyk promised to fight for his country before accepting a rematch.
Angry Joshua threw his post-match speech with swear words despite the presence of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the de facto ruler of the deeply religious country.