FORMER world heavyweight boxing champion Anthony Joshua’s rematch against Ukrainian Oleksandr Usyk is likely to be held on 20 August somewhere in the Middle East with Saudi Arabia touted as a most likely venue.
In September last year, Joshua lost his World Boxing Association (WBA), International Boxing Federation (IBF), World Boxing Organisation (WBO) and International Boxing Organisation (IBO) titles to Usyk when they met at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London. Following the loss, Joshua’s management team immediately asked for a rematch in line with the terms of their contract.
A date of July 23 was pencilled in for the rematch but Usyk’s promoter Oleksandr Krasyuk said they have been told to prepare for the later date. Saudi Arabia is expected to host the rematch despite concerns about the country’s human rights record.
Joshua, 32, has fought in Saudi Arabia once before when he beat Andy Ruiz Jnr in their rematch in 2019. This is now the second time the highly anticipated rematch between Usyk and Joshua has been delayed.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Usyk’s decision to remain at home to help the war effort forced organisers to delay the bout. Usyk, 35, left Ukraine in March to begin training while Joshua has spent his time away from the ring attempting to reorganise his coaching set-up as he looks to regain the belts.
American coach Robert Garcia has been hired with Joshua expected to adopt a more aggressive approach for the rematch. Prior to his loss to Usyk, Joshua had been planning a unification fight with Tyson Fury, who currently holds the World Boxing Council (WBC) belt.