Anthony Joshua vs Oleksandr Usyk date set to be confirmed as AJ returns to Saudi Arabia

Anthony Joshua’s loss to Oleksandr Usyk leaves Fury 'wounded'

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Anthony Joshua’s long awaited world heavyweight title rematch with Oleksandr Usyk is due to be confirmed for July 23 in Saudi Arabia. The provisonal date, and host country, has long been in the public domain, with Matchroom boss Eddie Hearn now set to officially reveal the news next week.

Despite Saudi Arabia’s deplorable human rights record, the nation has continued to host international sporting events, and has reportedly offered a £91.6 million deal to stage Joshua’s revenge bid. The British fighter beat Andy Ruiz Junior in a purpose-built outdoors arena in Diriyah in December 2019, but this bout will be in indoors in either Riyadh or Jeddah because of the extreme summer heat.

Back in September, Usyk outclassed Joshua at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, taking a unanimous verdict and with it, his WBA, IBF, WBO, and IBO belts. Despite his fighter’s harrowing night, Hearn was keen on a return to the same venue, but Usyk seemingly favours having the fight in Saudi.

On the latest episode of The DAZN Boxing Show, Hearn said: “It’s difficult. If you ask me now then, yes, you will get an announcement next week. But then tomorrow something could take a little bit longer with a contract or an escrow or whatever. So I will do my best. But as I talk to you now, I believe you’ll get an announcement next week.”

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However, a report in the Daily Mail has suggested that any failure to get the deal done next week could result in another frustrating delay. There is said to be concern over Usyk’s current weight, with him having lost more than 20lbs of muscle weight having taken up arms amid the Russian invasion of his homeland.

The 35-year-old joined fellow boxing legends Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko, and a host of other sporting stars, in taking arms and defending his country. However, in March, Usyk announced he had been given special dispensation to leave the war and begin his training camp ahead of facing Joshua, 32.

The challenger has been warned by Usyk’s promoter, Alexander Krassyuk, that his man won’t just be fighting for himself: “He’s not fighting for glory or for fame,” he said. He’s not just fighting for his personal legacy. He’s fighting for the whole country. He’s fighting for the whole democratic world.”

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