Anthony Joshua’s rematch with Oleksandr Usyk set for Saudi Arabia
Anthony Joshua’s rematch with Oleksandr Usyk has been confirmed for 20 August, with Saudi Arabia the chosen venue for the world heavyweight title fight. The British boxer will be attempting to win back the WBA, IBF and WBO titles he lost in September at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Usyk won the pair’s first contest on points with the judges scoring the fight 117-112, 116-112 and 115-113 in favour of the Ukrainian in London. A rematch clause was immediately activated but Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February cast doubt over when the former undisputed cruiserweight champion Usyk would be next back in the ring.
Usyk, 35, returned to Ukraine to fight for his country but was given special dispensation to leave and start preparations for this bout months later.
The Jeddah Super Dome, a 35,000-seat venue, will host the contest and the 32-year-old Joshua has made changes in pursuit of becoming world heavyweight champion for a third time.
His long-serving trainer Rob McCracken has moved on and Robert Garcia has been added to his corner to work alongside Angel Fernandez, who was already in place. It will mark Joshua’s second fight in the kingdom after he wrested back his world titles with a points win against Andy Ruiz Jr in Riyadh in December 2019.
Joshua described his recent career as a “roller-coaster” and said: “Fighting championship level back to back has had its pros and cons, but I decide every day to get stronger, to learn from my experiences and grow. A happy fighter is a dangerous fighter and I am the happiest and most motivated I have been.”
Amnesty International said it was “no surprise” to see another major sporting event heading to Saudi Arabia and that it was time for the participants to use their platforms to raise human rights issues.
“As we said with golfers in the LIV series and with the sale of Newcastle United, we’d like to see high-profile sporting figures speaking out about human rights to break the malign spell of Saudi sportswashing,” said Peter Frankel, Amnesty International UK’s economic affairs director.
“We would urge Anthony Joshua to use his platform to show solidarity with those who’ve been persecuted under Mohammed bin Salman’s sweeping crackdowns.”