Anthony Joshua lost a unanimous points decision to the classy Oleksandr Usyk at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium to put a huge dent in his hopes of an all-British showdown with Tyson Fury. Both men sustained damage, although neither went down, and AJ could not find the knockout in the later rounds to tip the scales in his favour.
It was technical chess match between the two fighters, with both enjoying promising spells.
However, after Usyk made a strong start and Joshua battled back into the contest, it was Usyk who came on strong in the final rounds.
Joshua upped the aggression as it became apparent that his Ukrainian opponent was ahead on the scorecards, although the 34-year-old remained elusive until the final bell.
Among a host of other things, the result means that Usyk takes home the WBA, WBO, IBF and IBO world heavyweight titles.
It also means Joshua sustained the second loss of his professional career, just over two years after his first came against Andy Ruiz Jr.
Defeat to Usyk was not as much of a shock, although the Brit was heavily favoured by bookmakers heading into the fight.
AJ came into the contest as the much bigger man, carrying an advantage of more than a stone in weight and three inches in height.
However, what Usyk lacked in size and raw power he made up for in technical ability, and Joshua could not quite fight the answer to hurt his opponent with great regularity.
Both men took damage in the closing rounds, with Usyk cut near the eye and Joshua sustaining swelling in a similar area.
However, it was the former undisputed cruiserweight champion who had his arm raised by the referee after the scorecards were read out, despite Joshua putting his own arms aloft after the final bell.
Thankfully for Joshua and promoter Eddie Hearn, a rematch clause was part of the fight contract in the eventuality that Usyk ran out victorious.
That now appears to be what is next for both fighters, with Joshua undoubtedly keen to win back his belts despite being given such a tough time by Usyk.
The result also has knock-on effects for other fighters, with Tyson Fury widely expected to face-off with Joshua if they had both come through their respective contests.
Fury is fighting Deontay Wilder for a third time on 9th October, an opponent who carries plenty of danger in his own right.
Whatever happens, Joshua’s second loss removes any aura of invincibility that was rebuilt after avenging his loss to Andy Ruiz Jr, thus removing the gloss from a potential future fight with Fury.
We are also looking at another substantial delay to their prospective bout, something which will frustrate fight fans given that AJ and Fury were billed to get in the ring earlier in 2021.