Anthony Joshua To Fight Oleksandr Usyk, Hoping To Retain Heavyweight Titles

Two times just before he was scheduled to try to defend his heavyweight titles versus the undefeated Oleksandr Usyk, Anthony Joshua sat at a news convention on Thursday in London, his hat, headphones and even h2o bottles positioned to make sponsor logos obvious to the cameras.

A lengthy checklist of corporations has invested in Joshua, the 31-calendar year-old British boxing star: Under Armour, his clothing service provider Beats by Dre, the headphones maker Matchroom Boxing, the promoter with which Joshua signed a lifetime agreement this 7 days. And Joshua, who is 24-1 with 22 knockouts, spoke as though Saturday’s bout from Usyk, an undefeated 34-year-previous from Ukraine, was not just a contest but also an financial stimulus package deal. He instructed reporters he felt accountable for furnishing a platform and a payday for fighters on the undercard of an function expected to draw in almost 70,000 spectators to Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

“I’m going to operate challenging, attempt and deliver awareness to boxing so it advantages every person, not just me,” Joshua explained. “I really do not endorse boxing because I want to be well-known. I promote it due to the fact I want anyone to gain from it.”

The card on Saturday arrives at the stop of two tumultuous months in the boxing business. On Sept. 11, the retired mixed martial arts fighter Vitor Belfort confused the 58-12 months-outdated previous heavyweight winner Evander Holyfield in a spend-for every-check out bout that, depending on one’s viewpoint, showcased either the peak or the rock-base of the recent development of novelty fights.

But over this earlier 7 days, really serious, aggressive, significant fights have competed for headlines. On Wednesday afternoon, Deontay Wilder held a media conference call to hype his rematch towards Tyson Fury for the W.B.C. heavyweight title, scheduled for Oct. 9 in Las Vegas. The prior working day, Saúl Álvarez and Caleb Plant traded insults and blows at a information meeting ahead of their Nov. 6 super-middleweight title bout.

That brawl was not staged for publicity’s sake — Plant emerged with a well known minimize on his right cheek — but it did create attention that could lead to pay back-for every-check out product sales. By Thursday afternoon, a movie of the skirmish posted on Showtime Boxing’s Twitter web site experienced been seen 4.7 million occasions.

But Joshua’s most important function bought devoid of pre-battle trash chat or a information meeting rumble.

Eddie Hearn, the chairman of Matchroom Boxing, stated the Joshua-Usyk battle would fill Tottenham Hotspur Stadium partly due to the fact of pent-up desire. The title combat tops the greatest combat card in England since the coronavirus pandemic started, and the boxing celebration is the initial for Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, a $1.33 billion location that opened in 2019.

But, Hearn explained, the crowd projection was also a function of Joshua’s reputation. Successful gold at the London Olympics in 2012 ensured Joshua would convert professional with a developed-in audience in Britain. In April 2017, a described 90,000 spectators watched him defeat Wladimir Klitschko at Wembley Stadium in London for the W.B.A., W.B.O. and I.B.F. titles.

“He’s the greatest star in British boxing by significantly, and arguably the most significant star in planet boxing,” Hearn claimed.

Joshua’s following take a look at is Usyk, an opponent requested by the Planet Boxing Organization, and bouts in between marquee champions and required challengers often prompt stakeholders to consider extended phrase. A win on Saturday ought to place Joshua to struggle the winner of subsequent month’s fight amongst Fury and Wilder.

But Usyk’s résumé implies he is not an afterthought. Like Joshua, he received Olympic gold in 2012. He turned specialist as a cruiserweight and received each significant sanctioning body’s title in that division. In his previous cruiserweight bout, he crushed the English star Tony Bellew, and he has received equally his bouts because relocating to heavyweight in 2019.

“Every fight tends to make heritage,” Usyk stated by way of a translator at the information convention on Thursday. “Me and Anthony are likely to make a different stage in background. A little something individuals will speak about. A little something people will try to remember.”

The match grew to become doable just after some only-in-boxing courtroom sparring amid Wilder, Fury and Joshua.

In Might, Hearn explained that Fury and Joshua had signed for a mid-August title unification bout. It was planned to be staged in Saudi Arabia and each individual fighter could have potentially attained nine figures. But Wilder sued to end the combat, arguing that soon after losing to Fury in February 2020 he had exercised the rematch clause in his agreement and acquired the authorized appropriate to fight Fury following. A decide agreed and ordered a Wilder-Fury battle, forcing Joshua to regroup and confront Usyk.

The ensuing battle pits Johsua, a effective puncher whose often porous protection can make him vulnerable, in opposition to Usyk, a calculating southpaw who counterpunches with authority.

“If kinds make fights, we’re in for a extremely, really distinctive night,” Ed Breeze, the govt vice president of DAZN, which will stream the fight card, mentioned at the news convention.

Identical conditions preceded Joshua’s very first skilled defeat in June 2019. A scheduled title protection from Jarrell Miller fell by means of when Miller unsuccessful a doping exam, and Joshua selected to move forward with a new opponent on the identical day for his U.S. debut at Madison Square Back garden. Andy Ruiz stepped in for Miller and scored a seventh-round earn by technological knockout.

Joshua regained his titles in a rematch six months later, but claimed the Ruiz loss experienced taught him the price of a reset and a whole schooling camp.

So just after an unexpected transform this time, as an alternative of slotting Usyk into the August day, Joshua moved the struggle to September to give it and his undefeated challenger the consideration they have earned.

“It’s not challenging. If you inform me I’m fighting King Kong, I’ll give it a go,” Joshua reported on Thursday. “It’s an option for me to perform. He’s heading to do the job, I’m going to function.”