“Because of his popularity, because of investments financial, emotional, and patriotic in nature, Joshua will be psychoanalyzed and unpacked again in the aftermath of his second loss to Usyk. This scrutiny is performed with an eye to refurbishing, remaking a finished product that is not allowed to be a fighter who figures only in his era. An answer for why Joshua again fell short will be sought mistakenly in the Watford, UK, fighter, in his constitution, his fragility, his development. But the best explanation was in the ring with him that night. Joshua is a very good heavyweight; Usyk is a better one. He is the reason Joshua is no longer a champion and Joshua disclosed as much in a postfight rant that revealed just how physically and psychically taxing his efforts to unseat the Ukrainian had been.”
This rancor of the lower divisions, a concussionista whose intentions reflect his disdain for the jab—what did he tell himself in those minute reprieves from a protracted beating? Could Sor Rungvisai identify flashes of success, punches that didn’t just land but altered the behavior, the resolve, and bearing of his opponent? Because such signs were almost imperceptible at a vantage point beyond the ropes. Rodriguez did what no one has done to Sor Rungivsai: he made him look small, even weak. A win over Sor Rungvisai, who had shown increasing wear of late? That was certainly possible, especially for Rodriguez, a Texan fighting in his hometown. But a one-sided drubbing? Who envisioned that?
“Outside of effect, though, there is nothing particularly savage about Beterbiev, an unlikely quality considering his power. He is a thinking destroyer, a measured, patient, inexorable force. Everything he throws is purposeful and painful, and he knows it. So even in his trying moments, Beterbiev fights within himself. There are no demons to exorcise, no bloodlust to satisfy—only the application of strategy, the exercise of technique, and the mess to clean up afterward.”