Just when it finally seemed all obstacles were out of the way, up popped Deontay Wilder to shockingly wreck the plans for that massive showdown in Saudi Arabia on August 14.
Thanks to an arbitration ruling from the United States, Fury it appears will now have to get Wilder out of the way by defeating him in a trilogy fight before September 15. Unless they can agree a step-aside resolution – something which appears unlikely.
That leaves Joshua needing to fulfil his WBO mandatory obligations against former cruiserweight king Oleksandr Usyk.
Just hours after the stunning Wilder news broke, Usyk’s promoter Alex Krassyuk confirmed he was already in talks with Eddie Hearn about making Joshua vs Usyk. Hearn himself then admitted Usyk was Plan B for AJ after the collapse of the Fury fight.
Now the WBO has ordered that Joshua must fight Usyk, giving the two camps 10 days from May 21, 2021 to make the fight or it will go to purse buds.
Here is all we know right now about what should be the next massive heavyweight fight to take place in the UK.
When might Joshua vs Usyk take place?
The key thing to note here is the Tokyo Olympic Games. Why you might ask? The simple answer is the involvement of AJ’s long-time trainer Robert McCracken.
McCracken has a key role in Team GB and is expected to be in Japan for the Games, which are scheduled to begin on July 23 and run through to August 8. This is of course if they go ahead – calls for a cancellation due to the pandemic are growing daily.
Joshua vs Usyk is likely to go ahead on Saturday September 25 at London’s Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Which means McCracken will be well clear of Olympic duty and ready to prepare AJ for fight night.
The Joshua vs Usyk showdown in September dovetails nicely with Fury vs Wilder 3 booked to happen on July 24.
This all ties in with Bob Arum’s view that Fury vs Joshua could then (assuming both men win) still take place before the end of 2021.
Joshua vs Usyk on TV: channel and live stream details
Hearn is taking his Matchroom Boxing operation out of that long-term partnership with Sky Sports from July 1 to go all in with DAZN in the UK (he already has a major U.S. deal with the streaming platform).
Joshua though has a separate deal with Sky and will not be part of the Hearn/DAZN pact in the UK. So a Joshua vs Usyk bout would be televised on pay-per-view by Sky Sports Box Office domestically.
AJ’s fights – along with Usyk’s last bout against Dereck Chisora – have been streamed by DAZN outside the UK to around 200 territories. It’s likely that would be the scenario here. Including in the United States.
It’s interesting to note that Usyk will be Joshua’s last fight on his existing Sky deal. There is then likely to be massive bidding war for his next UK broadcast contract – with at least one Fury fight set to be a part of it.
Joshua vs Usyk tickets
Some good news here for UK fight fans after well over a year of COVID-19 misery. Crowds are being allowed back into arenas now and that is likely to be the case for Joshua vs Usyk.
Wembley Stadium was allowed to have 25% capacity for the games it hosted in soccer’s Euro 2020, and things could be even brighter still by the time late September comes around.
We’ll keep you up to date on developments, including when and where those tickets will go on sale.
What is at stake in Joshua vs Usyk?
Joshua holds three of the four major world heavyweight titles and they would all be on the line vs Usyk:
- International Boxing Federation (IBF)
- World Boxing Association (WBA)
- World Boxing Organization (WBO)
Of course this isn’t the only prize. In theory a unification match for all the marbles against the winner of Fury vs Wilder 3 would also be up for grabs. And unifying the belts is a confirmed career goal for both AJ and Usyk.
Joshua vs Usyk odds
Joshua will definitely start favourite against Usyk, who is naturally smaller and has less experience at heavyweight. But the bookmakers absolutely do not foresee a cakewalk for the Watford man.
AJ is a best-priced 1/2 with William Hill but as short as 3/10 in places. Usyk meanwhile is as short as 6/4 with Hills but as big as 9/4 elsewhere. The draw is available at 25s.
Joshua vs Usyk weights
One of the biggest factors in the fight could be size. AJ is a natural heavyweight while Usyk is lighter and relies much more on his footwork and boxing ability having come up from cruiser.
The Ukrainian weighed 217lbs (15st 7lbs) against Chisora, but appears to have bulked up since that.
AJ meanwhile was a trim and ripped 241lbs (17st 3lbs) for his last fight – a dominant knockout victory over Bulgarian Kubrat Pulev.
Expect that 24lbs gap to be smaller when these two meet. But will the extra size blunt Usyk’s brilliant speed and footwork?
Anthony Joshua record
Anthony Joshua has been a superstar as an amateur and a superstar in the professional boxing ranks. He’s done it all.
AJ, born on October 15, 1989 and now 31 years old, was Olympic super-heavyweight champion at London 2012 to cap a glittering amateur career, before turning pro with Hearn’s Matchroom promotional outfit.
Since then he has fought 25 times with 24 victories and just one defeat – that shocking loss to Andy Ruiz Jr at Madison Square Garden in June 2019. AJ swiftly avenged that loss with an easy points win in their Saudi Arabia rematch in December 2019.
The Watford man – who stands 6ft 6ins (1.98m) tall and has a reach of 82ins (2.08m), is one of the most devastating finishers in the sport. Some 22 of his 24 victories have come inside distance, with only Joseph Parker and Ruiz in that rematch taking him the full distance.
Joshua has beaten a string of top level heavyweights en route to holding the IBF, WBA and WBO world heavyweight titles – including Ruiz, Parker, Charles Martin, Dillian Whyte, Alexander Povetkin, Kubrat Pulev, Carlos Takam, Dominic Breazeale and Eric Molina.
Perhaps his greatest moment as a professional so far though was that epic 11th-round stoppage of the great Wladimir Klitschko in front of 90,000 at Wembley Stadium in April 2017. AJ proved he had cojones as well as talent and power by coming back from the brink of defeat to best Wlad in the penultimate session.
Oleksandr Usyk record
Like Joshua, Oleksandr Usyk was brilliant as an amateur and has been brilliant as a pro. He is another elite talent.
This sensational boxer from the Ukraine, like AJ, claimed gold at the London Olympics of 2012, this time in the heavyweight division. It was the exclamation point on a superb amateur career which finished with a stellar 335-15 record.
Usyk, who was born on January 17, 1987 and is now 34 years old, has now fought 18 times as a professional with a perfect 18-0 record. Some 13 of those 18 victories have come inside distance.
Oleksandr, who stands 6ft 3ins (1.91m) tall and has a reach of 78ins (1.98m), is a terrific technician who swept all before him in the cruiserweight division en route to unifying all of the major titles.
His slick skills mark him out as one of the greatest talents in the sport today, and he capped his reign at 200lbs by first dominating Murat Gassiev in Moscow in July 2018 and then knocking out Tony Bellew in Manchester four months later.
Since moving up to heavy, Usyk has fought twice – the first a comfortable success against Chazz Witherspoon in 2019 and then a much more difficult decision victory over Chisora in October 2020.
That fight with Chisora showed Usyk could hang with a big elite heavy, but also raised a few questions. Would he have the power to trouble the very very best in the marquee weight class? We should find out when he steps into the ring in August.