Alan Hubbard

The vanquished Anthony Joshua was taught several lessons in his defeat by fellow former Olympic champion Oleksandr Usyk last weekend, one of the most significant of which surely being the fact that his trade is blow business, not show business.

Joshua approached the most crucial contest of his career as if he was performing on stage at the London Palladium and not in the ring at Tottenham Hotspur's new football stadium.

To begin with he seemed to put more effort into his ringwalk then he did his tactics against the superbly talented Ukrainian.

Usyk, whom had entered the ring at a brisk pace, ignoring the crowds on either side lining the roped-off passageway, waited patiently while Joshua strutted his stuff like a movie star at a West End premiere, smiling, oozing with self-confidence, bumping fists with outstretched, gloved hands and even stopping to plant a kiss on the cheek of one lady. All to the now over-familiar strains of Sweet Caroline from a 60,000-plus crowd, the majority of whom seem to have come to sing, dance, swig lager and savour an event rather than a boxing match.

And once the first bell sounded, it was the undefeated former cruiserweight champion Usyk who obviously had turned up to take care of business - the real thing, not the showy stuff.

I suggested here last week that it was likely Usyk could win on points - which he did - but be the victim of a hometown decision. Well, his victory was so clearly defined that such an outcome would have provoked a hue and cry that would have embarrassed not only boxing, but the whole concept of fair play.

Even so, the fact that a British judge, Howard Foster, gave it to you Usyk by only two rounds was unfathomable to say the least. There is also some debate as to whether the final round, when Joshua was on the brink of being stopped while reeling on the ropes from his opponent's blistering southpaw onslaught, actually ended a few seconds early.

A good big 'un will always beat a good little 'un? That’s the familiar adage but there is also one in boxing which suggests that the bigger they are, the harder they fall…

Joshua was bigger in every respect but he simply did not measure up to the Ukrainian ace who not only is one of the nicest men in boxing but arguably the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world. Some may say that this label belongs to the prolific Mexican middleweight Saul "Canelo" Alvarez but in my view Usyk is technically superior to Canelo.

Oleksandr Usyk, left, thoroughly outclassed fellow Olympic gold medallist Anthony Joshua ©Getty Images
Oleksandr Usyk, left, thoroughly outclassed fellow Olympic gold medallist Anthony Joshua ©Getty Images

So why didn't "AJ" use his advantages of height, weight and reach to shove Usyk around, bully him and keep backing him up? Instead he allowed his fearless foe to dictate the pace, to work his way inside the Joshua jab and land the better, more precisely picked punches. This was a masterclass from Usyk, who became only the third cruiserweight in history to win a world heavyweight title. In doing so he has thrown the entire heavyweight division into a state of flux. Earlier this year it seemed we were tantalisingly close to an agreement for an all-British clash between rival champions Joshua and Tyson Fury which would be the biggest and richest fight in history, with all four recognised belts at stake.

But an arbitration hearing in the United States in May ruled that Fury had to honour a rematch agreement with American Deontay Wilder, which is now set to take place in Las Vegas on Saturday week (October 9).

In this situation Joshua agreed to go ahead to face his mandatory challenger, Usyk, meaning that both Brits had to win their respective contests for their own superfight to happen.

Alas, Joshua has been comprehensively beaten, and although his chances of regaining his belts for a second time seem bleak, it looks likely he will invoke a rematch clause.

The probability is that this could take place in London early next year though Usyk is hopeful it could happen at the Olympisky Stadium in Kyiv, the preferred Ukrainian spelling for the capital Kyiv. It was fitting that the city’s illustrious Mayor, former world heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko, was at the Spurs ground to witness his compatriot's triumph - and as one of Usyk’s promoters will use his considerable influence to get the return fight staged there.

All these machinations push the prospect of a Fury-Joshua fight further into the background. That is, if AJ wins the rematch and Fury repeats his conquest of Wilder. The latter is not a given, though Fury will be a heavy favourite to do so in view of the one-sided nature of his earlier victory, which followed their previous draw.

A elaborate ringwalk was the high point of Anthony Joshua's night ©Getty Images
A elaborate ringwalk was the high point of Anthony Joshua's night ©Getty Images

Joshua has said he would face Fury even without the belts but should Fury beat Wilder again this could push a contest with Joshua even further away.

Though it had been previously agreed that the two would split a record £200 million ($270 million/€230 million) purse, Joshua, who can be comforted by pocketing some £10 million ($13.5 million/€11.5 million) for Saturday’s (September 25) fruitless excursion, can hardly demand an equal share if he is no longer a champion, which will make fresh negotiations more difficult.

Indeed, the whole situation is a conundrum of clout.

At least Joshua took his beating manfully but on this showing Fury would stand him on his head, especially if AJ was as gun-shy as he was against Usyk.

A further complication is that Britain, currently blessed with several world-class heavyweights, has another number one contender in Olympic silver medallist Joe Joyce, a mandatory challenger for the World Boxing Organization (WBO) crown, one of the four which the Ukrainian relieved from Joshua, the others being the World Boxing Association, International Boxing Organization and International Boxing Federation. Fury has only the World Boxing Council title, but this is traditionally regarded as the most prestigious.

Another fascinating scenario to be considered, should Usyk again beat Joshua and Fury overcome Wilder is a bout between the two which would be one I would love to watch. At 6 feet 9 inches the Gypsy Giant really would tower over the 6'3" Usyk.

But the bigger they are…