Usyk becomes the third man in history to hold titles at both the cruiserweight and heavyweight levels.
In the seventh round, Usyk threw Joshua off balance, and in the final 30 seconds of the twelfth round, Usyk had Joshua on the ropes, exhausted and fighting for his life.
The three judges, from the United Kingdom, Ukraine, and the United States, awarded the contest to the 34-year-old Crimean native with scores of 117-112, 116-112, and 115-113, respectively.
Usyk follows in the footsteps of Evander Holyfield and David Haye, who both became heavyweight world champions after winning cruiserweight titles. Indeed, the opponent presented, in pure boxing terms, the greatest challenge of the Londoner's career so far, as it became clear round after round.
Joshua had the weight and power advantage – he was 19 pounds heavier than his Ukrainian opponent at 17st 2lbs – but he couldn't make that difference count in a dance in which Usyk slipped and slid and was a grade above with his vast boxing skills.
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