The Briton suffered only his second professional career defeat in front of 67,000 stunned fans on Saturday night to follow his shock 2019 loss to Andy Ruiz Jr, leaving plans for a lucrative all-British unification showdown with WBC champion Tyson Fury in tatters.
The unbeaten Usyk, meanwhile, becomes just the third man ever to hold world titles at cruiserweight and heavyweight level.
Joshua will be eager to quickly exercise his rematch clause in early 2022, with Fury set to face Deontay Wilder for a third time in Las Vegas in a fortnight.
There was also plenty of action on tonight’s undercard, including Lawrence Okolie providing an easy first defence of his WBO cruiserweight title against overmatches no1 contender Dilan Prasovic.
Callum Smith produced a huge knockout on his light-heavyweight debut against Lenin Castillo, who was taken to hospital, while Campbell Hatton was fortunate to escape with a win against Uruguay’s Sonni Martinez in his fourth professional fight and first over six rounds.
Oleksandr Usyk bt Anthony Joshua
Lawrence Okolie bt Dilan Prasovic
Campbell Hatton bt Sonni Martinez
Callum Smith bt Lenin Castillo
Florian Marku bt Maxim Prodan
Christopher Ousley bt Khasan Baysangurov
Follow Joshua vs Usyk fallout LIVE with Standard Sport’s blog below and Matt Majendie at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium…
Hearn wants February or March rematch in UK
Usyk has said he has his heart set on fighting in front of his home crowd in Kiev next but Hearn insisted the offers were already flooding in from elsewhere.
Scheduling the rematch for February or March, Hearn said: “There’s already been a few people on about staging the rematch but I’d like to do it in the UK again.”
Joshua: I’m not a sulker… we’ll get it right
Despite the loss, Joshua said: “I’m a different kind of animal. I’m not a sulker. This is a blessed opportunity to be able to fight for the heavyweight championship of the world. I’m not going to be going home to cry tonight about it.
“A great 12 rounds. A great experience in the ring. Then we progress from this point on. We’ll be doing it all again soon. We’ll get it right.”
Joshua: I’ll win rematch… I’m a quick learner
Joshua did conduct a very late press conference with reporters at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium after all.
“I believe I’ll get a good win in the next fight because of what I learned in this fight. I’m a quick learner. I’ve got the chance to become heavyweight champion of the world again. I’m keeping a positive head on my shoulders,” he said.
“I’m ready to get back to the gym and put that work in. I want to get back on the grind so I can improve. The gameplan is to win.”
Nice to see Joshua and Usyk embrace and pose for pictures backstage.
Joshua tweeted a defiant message via his official account around 15 minutes ago.
He wrote: “Keep positive even if the world’s crumbling in front of you!
“London I love you & thank you each and every time!”
Whyte: Negative Joshua lacked ambition
“I said if Joshua tried to box he was always going to lose,” Joshua rival Dillian Whyte told BBC Radio 5 Live.
“If he had come out and bullied him and pushed the pace and let his hands go he could have knocked him out in the first even round.
“But he came out and was being too negative he seemed like a gun shy fighter. You are the bigger man, have a go.
“I don’t know, he lacked ambition in the ring there tonight.
“The first round, Usyk landed the first strong blow and Joshua was a negative fighter. He got tagged with a left and he was worried the whole time.”
Hearn: Joshua already talking rematch
“He is already talking about the rematch now,” Hearn told BBC Radio 5 Live.
“The first thing he said was ‘I know I can beat him, I know exactly what I have to do’.
“(He said that) back in the changing room just now. You talk about the rematch, but doing it is something very different.”
Hearn added: “Knowing AJ, knowing the position he is in, knowing that he will have a shot to get his belts back, there is absolutely nothing else he will do other than a rematch.”
Joshua to go to hospital
Hearn has confirmed that Joshua will go to hospital and is unsure if he has suffered a fractured eye socket.
“He will go to hospital,” Hearn told BBC Radio 5 Live.
“I don’t know if he has broken his eye socket, it doesn’t look great.”
Hearn added: “He said he couldn’t see after the ninth round, obviously he was getting tagged a lot as well.
“His power looked like it had left him, the tank was empty and it was only heart which kept him on his feet in the 12th round.”
Matt Majendie at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Unlike against Andy Ruiz Jr where he was undone by one solid punch, a too one-paced and one-dimensional Joshua was on the back foot throughout against an opponent who showed the greater guile, aggression and adaptability of the pair’s 12 rounds.
Prior to the bout, Joshua had promised to show how much he’d improved as a fighter but, if anything, he took a step back from the manner in which he won back his WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO heavyweight belts back against Ruiz and then successfully defended against Kubrat Pulev.
It was predicted that Usyk’s best chance of winning the fight was for it to go the distance and yet the Ukrainian also looked the likelier to get the knockout punch as an exhausted Joshua slumped on the ropes in the dying seconds of the final round with his right eye beginning to shut.
It resulted in a unanimous decision for the 34-year-old in front of a stunned 66,267 fans inside Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in only his third heavyweight fight since making the step up from cruiserweight. In the process, he followed Evander Holyfield and David Haye in becoming only the third cruiserweight champion to become heavyweight champion of the world.
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