Usyk ‘leaving Ukraine to prep for Joshua rematch’

Oleksandr Usyk vs Anthony Joshua 2 is happening this summer after all with the Ukrainian star reportedly leaving his war-torn homeland to get ready for the huge rematch.

Plans for Usyk to defend the IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight titles he won last September were up in the air when Vladimir Putin’s Russian army invaded the Ukraine. Usyk, who had been in the UK in talks about the rematch, returned home to join a territorial defence unit.

But now, per Mike Coppinger of ESPN, Usyk will leave Ukraine to cross the border into Poland and then begin preparations for the rematch.

The road to Usyk vs Joshua 2

The news follows on from Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn issuing an upbeat note on the potential for the rematch to happen this summer. He has always been hugely respectful of the fact what is happening in Ukraine right now far outweighs any sporting matter.

Financial details for Usyk vs Joshua 2 had already been agreed, and now all that is left to settle on is a date and venue. Obviously Kyiv now has no chance of being in the mix for obvious reasons.

Usyk was brilliant last September when he outpointed Joshua in their first meeting at London’s Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. He boxed superbly but also showed great cojones to stand in the pocket and trade with his bigger opponent when necessary.

Oleksandr (19-0 as a professional) will likely start favourite to defeat Joshua again, while the British star is attempting to become world heavyweight champion for a third time. He lost his titles to Andy Ruiz Jr in an upset in Madison Square Garden in the summer of 2019, but regained them in Saudi Arabia in December 2019.

What TV channel will the fight be on?

TV details for the rematch have still to be announced, with Joshua currently out of contract in the UK from a broadcast perspective. His Sky Sports deal ended with the Usyk defeat last year.

Joshua’s fights have streamed on DAZN in the United States meanwhile, while Hearn has an exclusive global partnership with DAZN – which for now excludes AJ.

The obvious move appears to be DAZN going all out to sign Joshua globally – that would allow it to stream the Usyk rematch in the UK, which has a huge boxing market.