By: Sean Crose
It’s been a while since Oleksandr Usyk and Anthony Joshua have seen each other in the ring. The last time the two men met in gloved combat was in September of last year, at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Usyk, the former undisputed cruiserweight champion of the world stepped into the ring that night with an 18-0 record. Still, the 24-1 Joshua was essentially the man to beat. What’s more, people were already projecting ahead, imagining Joshua would face the winner of the third Tyson Fury – Deontay Wilder fight in the near future. Needless to say, Usyk upset the applecart by outboxing Joshua and winning a twelve round unanimous decision. The Ukrainian fighter also walked out of the ring that night in possession of WBA, WBO and IBF titles which had belonged to Joshua earlier in the evening.
Needless to say, a rematch was in order. What’s more, both fighters seemed to want one. Unfortunately, boxing being boxing, matters soon became muddied. Word was that Joshua was possibly stepping aside so that Usyk could first fight WBC and lineal heavyweight champion Fury. Needless to say, the Usyk-Fury fight never came to be. Onto Usyk-Joshua 2 then, correct? Sadly, no. For Wladimir Putin’s Russian military invaded Usyk’s Ukrainian homeland, beginning a kind of bloody, full scale European combat that the world hadn’t seen since World War II.
Like other fighters of note, Usyk decided the best thing to do at that point was to return to his country and do his part in supporting it during war time. It looked as if Usky-Joshua 2 might never come to be at that point, or if it did come to be it would be in a hazy, perhaps distant future. Then, however, word came that Usyk, with the blessing of his nation, was returning to the ring to face Joshua once more. Now all that was needed was a time and place for the fight to go down. According to Dan Rafael, the question of time may be answered.
Rather than having the rematch go down in June, as had been previously planned, Rafael reports the fight is currently “being planned for July 23d.” Rafael also reports the battle may go down in Saudi Arabia, where Joshua fought and defeated Andy Ruiz back in late 2019. With Usyk now training for the rematch, it’s clear that, although logistical questions remain, the heavyweight rematch between he and Joshua is a go. It now appears to be simply a matter of details.
Cover Photo: Sky Sports
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