Before Oleksandr Usyk could defend his titles in the squared circle, the unified world heavyweight champion from Ukraine traded his boxing shorts for the olive drab and picked up arms to defend his country against Russia in the ongoing war, making him unavailable for the rematch against former champion Anthony Joshua In the meantime, Eddie Hearn is planning an interim title fight for Joshua, before the Ukrainian finishes his duties on the border and returns to boxing.
Eddie Hearn says if Oleksandr Usyk isn’t available by May or June he will plan an interim heavyweight championship fight for Anthony Joshua
Alexander Usyk (19-0, 13 KOs), who defeated Anthony Joshua (24-2, 22 KOs) via unanimous decision at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London on 25th September last year to become the new WBA (Super), IBF, WBO, and IBO heavyweight champion, was due to a rematch with Joshua this year.
However, in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the subsequent war that is currently taking place, Usyk decided to take up arms to defend his country, joining his fellow compatriots Vasiliy Lomachenko, Wladimir Klitschko, and Vitali Klitschko.
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Engaged in frontline duties means there is no certainty on when Usyk will be back for the rematch, and it is expected that spending days as a soldier will take a toll on his physical and mental health and Usyk may need some more time to get back to fighting conditions.
Eddie Hearn, in the meantime, does not want Joshua to wait indefinitely for Usyk’s return and is already planning an interim championship for the Briton. The British promoter wants to reach out to Usyk’s team about the boxer’s availability and if he doesn’t return by May or June, Hearn says he will plan for an interim title fight for AJ.
“We’re going to ask questions soon, but it’s not really been on the top of my mind to start probing around and asking, ‘If you’re ready to fight?’” Hearn told reporters last Saturday about the Usyk vs Joshua rematch, “But we will have to ask soon, and they will have to make a decision.”
“They’re going to have to decide whether they’ll [Team Usyk] be ready by the end of May or June, or we’ll put it back and have an interim bout. But we’re not letting the rematch go,” the promoter added. [H/T Boxingnews24.com]
- Eddie Hearn does not want Anthony Joshua to wait indefinitely for Oleksandr Usyk to return from the war and is planning an interim fight for Joshua
- Usyk has taken up arms to defend Ukraine, joining the likes of Vasiliy Lomachenko, Wladimir Klitschko, and Vitali Klitschko