Oleksandr Usyk defends his three heavyweight world titles in a rematch against former champion Anthony Joshua on Saturday at the Jeddah Superdome in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia (DAZN, 1 p.m. ET, with main event expected to start at 5:30 p.m. ET).
Usyk (19-0, 13 KOs), 35, of Ukraine, overcame a cut on his right eyebrow and dominated Joshua last September to score a unanimous decision victory to claim the WBA, WBO and IBF belts. And he expects to keep them.
“We learned from each other in the first fight, but this is a continuation and the first round on Saturday will be Round 13,” Usyk said during a news conference on Wednesday. “We had enough time to study each other. We were born to compete for life, for belts, for everything. The one who does not compete, does not win.”
Joshua (24-2, 22 KOs), 32, of England, exercised his contractual right to an immediate rematch and vows to reclaim the championship Saturday.
“This is what competition is all about, setting goals I want to achieve and being disciplined enough to follow them through,” Joshua said. “[The belts], they mean something, but that’s all at the end of the target. It’s not like I’m skipping the process. I’m focused on the process.”
Next fight: Filip Hrgovic vs. Zhilei Zhang, 12 rounds, IBF heavyweight eliminator
Smith stops Bauderlique in Round 4
Callum Smith, right, stopped Mathieu Bauderlique in Round 4 to become the mandatory challenger to Artur Beterbiev’s WBC light heavyweight title. Nick Potts/PA Images via Getty Images
Former super middleweight titleholder Callum Smith scored a one-punch KO of Mathieu Bauderlique to guarantee himself a WBC light heavyweight title shot.
|— Courtesy of CompuBox|
The 32-year-old from Liverpool, England, floored Bauderlique (21-2, 12 KOs) with a counter left hook in Round 4 before another left hook sent Bauderlique crashing to the mat in a heap for the knockout.
“I’m in this game to become a two-weight world champion,” said Smith (29-1, 21 KOs). “Tonight brought me one step closer.”
Artur Beterbiev, who holds the WBC title at 175 pounds (along with the WBC and WBA belts), is slated to first defend his belts against Anthony Yarde in early 2023.
The contest was Smith’s second at 175 pounds. He moved up in weight after Canelo Alvarez defeated him via lopsided decision in December 2020.
Bauderlique, a 33-year-old Frenchman, claimed bronze at the 2016 Olympics. He was fighting at the world-class level for the first time.
Jack outpoints Rivera in close, entertaining fight
Badou Jack, left, scored a close split-decision victory against Richard Rivera in a cruiserweight bout. Francois Nel/Getty Images
Badou Jack, a former super middleweight champion, eked out a split-decision victory over unheralded fighter Richard “Popeye the Sailor Man” Rivera in a 10-round cruiserweight fight.
|— Courtesy of CompuBox|
One judge scored the matchup for Rivera 96-94, but was overruled by a pair of 96-94 scorecards in favor of Jack.
“I think I did enough. Very awkward, ugly style,” said Jack, who was fighting at 200 pounds for the third consecutive time. ” … I need to step my game up, I can’t fight like this. … We’re going to do better next time.”
The 38-year-old, who fights out of Las Vegas, struggled over the first half before taking control during the final five rounds. Jack’s best moments came in the fourth minute — that’s right — of Round 8, a frame that mistakenly was allowed to last 3 minutes, 58 seconds, almost a minute longer than regulations state.
Jack (27-3-3, 16 KOs) buzzed Rivera during the fourth minute and was able to do enough to escape with the win and avoid a major upset defeat.
Rivera (21-1, 16 KOs) suffered the first loss of his career in his first fight against world-class competition, but after the performance, he could be in line for another opportunity.
Almaayouf wins first pro fight by TKO
Ziyad Almaayouf, left, made a successful professional debut with a first-round TKO victory over Jose Alatorre. Francois Nel/Getty Images
Jose Alatorre came out moving forward behind wild flurries that forced Ziyad Almaayouf to move backwards. Almaayouf adjusted, landing 20 of 37 power punches (54%) en route to scoring the first-round technical knockout in his pro debut.
Almaayouf, 22, scored two knockdowns before the referee stopped the contest with five seconds remaining in the opening round.
Ali stops Garcia in 65 seconds
Ramla Ali celebrates her first-round stoppage victory against Crystal Garcia on the Oleksandr Usyk-Anthony Joshua 2 undercard in Saudi Arabia. Francois Nel/Getty Images
|— Courtesy of CompuBox|
Ramla Ali, in the first professional women’s boxing match in the history of Saudi Arabia, kicked off the main card with a first-round TKO of Crystal Garcia Nova.
Ali, a model and racial equality activist from Somalia, floored Garcia (10-3, 10 KOs) with a sharp right hand that sent the mouthpiece soaring outside the ropes. Garcia, a 22-year-old from Dominican Republic, didn’t seem to attempt to beat the count.
“I feel like I need to go back and do some more pads, I didn’t really get out of first gear,” said Ali, a 2020 Olympian who resides in London. “I’m really looking forward to having a little break now. … My last two fights I’ve been training and competing with a fractured wrist and fractured toe.”
Ali (7-0, 2 KOs), who is trained by Manny Robles, needed just 65 seconds to score the stoppage.
Bader Samreen def. Fuad Tarverdi by fourth-round TKO
Still to come:
Title fight: Oleksandr Usyk vs. Anthony Joshua, 12 rounds, for Usyk’s WBO, WBA and IBF heavyweight titles