Oleksandr Usyk defeated Anthony Joshua by a split decision on points and retained his WBA, WBO, IBF, and IBO world heavyweight boxing titles.
The battle in Saudi Arabia's Jedda on Sunday was a rematch in London in September, which Usyk won by a unanimous decision to grab the belts from Joshua. However, Usyk fought with significantly more intensity and emotion this time around.
Usyk represented a country fighting for its existence after a Russian invasion, while Joshua fought for his boxing career's destiny.
As the final bell rang at King Abdullah Sports City Arena, Usyk appeared comfortably in the lead. The American judge scored the bout 115-113 for Joshua, but the British and Ukrainian judges scored it 115-113 and 116-112 for Usyk, respectively.
An emotional Usyk raised his left arm and draped the Ukrainian flag over his face when he heard the winning words "and still."
The 35-year-old stated through a translation, "I dedicate this victory to my country, to my family, to my team, and to all the military defending this country." "Thank you tremendously."
Saturday's victory improved Usyk's professional record to 20 fights without a loss, while Joshua, 32, suffered his third career loss.
Joshua, who had raised the Ukrainian flag aloft with Usyk as they awaited the judgment and appeared to accept defeat, had an uncharacteristic collapse following a bout billed as "Rage on the Red Sea."
He snatched two of the belts, dropped them as he exited the ring, walked for the dressing area, and then turned around, stepped back between the ropes, and addressed the fans.
"Usyk is an exceptional fighter. "That is merely an emotion," he stated.
"For this guy to defeat me tonight, perhaps I could have done better, but it demonstrates how much effort he must have put in, so please applaud him as our world heavyweight champion.
"I was researching Ukraine and all of your incredible country's champions. I've never been there. What is occurring there, I do not know, but it is not pleasant... Under such conditions, he has managed to become champion."
Following a rigorous five-month training camp, Usyk entered the arena wearing a blue-and-yellow shirt emblazoned with the words "Colours of Freedom" and accompanied by terms of support from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in his nightly video message to the nation.
The president said, "We stick together." "We assist one another. We repair the damage done. We fight for all of our citizens. And we applaud those who represent Ukraine today, especially Usyk, our man!"
Joshua's corner urged him to modify his rhythm in the opening round, but Usyk continued to keep moving and land effective jabs, and body blows as the fight progressed.
Joshua had his strongest round in the ninth, but Usyk fought back vigorously in the tenth as the pace accelerated drastically.
Joshua, who needed a knockout and was running out of time, could not land decisive blows against an athletic and elusive opponent who fought back aggressively.
The Ukrainian fell to his knees at the final bell as the two embraced.
Usyk stated that the match was historic.
"Many generations will watch this fight, particularly the round in which someone attempted to severely defeat me. "However, I stood up to it and redirected it," he stated.
Usyk also won the Ring Magazine championship with his victory.
The only heavyweight title Usyk does not currently hold is the WBC belt that will soon be vacated by Tyson Fury, who has announced his retirement.
Usyk, when asked about Fury, stated, "I am certain Tyson Fury has not yet retired." I'm confident that Tyson Fury wants to fight me. If I don't fight Tyson Fury, I don't fight at all."