Eddie Hearn is still hopeful that Oleksandr Usyk can free himself up to face Anthony Joshua in their rematch. Currently, Usyk (19-0, 13 KOs) is in Ukraine defending his country in response to the recent Russian invasion.
If Usyk can’t fight soon, Hearn says he wants to match Joshua against a top 15 contender.
Thus far, Hearn isn’t saying anything about leaning on the sanctioning bodies to have them free up the three titles that Usyk has in his possession.
It could pure waste of time for Hearn to hope that Usyk will be available to face Joshua soon because you never know.
IBF/WBA/WBO heavyweight champion Usyk isn’t saying when he’ll take the rematch with Joshua (24-2, 22 KOs). Unfortunately, for Joshua and Hearn, Usyk could be busy for months and even years.
Wars generally don’t end in a week or a month, which is why Hearn needs to start looking at an alternative direction for Joshua to go in. In war, soldiers don’t return from the front to defend their titles.
It good option for Joshua would be to face one of Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing stable heavyweights like Filip Hrgovic.
“No, just someone from the top 15,” said Eddie Hearn to Fighthype on who Anthony Joshua will fight if Oleksandr Usyk doesn’t return from Ukraine soon.
“It’s hard for me to say, ‘No, the Usyk fight will be fine’ because I have no idea of the situation. But I think that fight [Joshua vs. Usyk] will take place.
“If it doesn’t and he [Usyk] needs more time, we’d be sympathetic to that and we’d do an interim bout in the meantime,” said Hearn on Joshua taking a stay busy match while waiting for Usyk to return from Ukraine.
“It’s too early. It doesn’t feel right to start making calls to the Usyk team asking [when he’ll be ready to fight Joshua],” said Hearn to K.O Artist Sport. “It’s a very personal time for those guys, and everyone is in our thoughts over there [in Ukraine].
“AJ just wants to fight Usyk for his belts, but obviously if he’s not available, we’ll have to have an interim belt. But we don’t want that obligation to go away,” said Hearn.
It would look bad for Joshua to fight for Usyk’s titles if they’re stripped from him due to his commitment to defending his country.
The only way it would look good for Joshua to fight for a belt if Usyk is unavailable would be for him to challenge WBC champion Tyson Fury.
Options for Joshua’s interim fight:
- Deontay Wilder
- Frank Sanchez
- Andy Ruiz Jr
- Filip Hrgovic
- Otto Wallin
- Robert Helenius
- Tyson Fury
- Joe Joyce
- Daniel Dubois
It’s unlikely that Hearn will let Joshua fight any of those fighters in his next fight if Usyk is unable to fight. More likely than not, we’ll see Joshua fight Zhang Zhilei, Agit Kabayel, or Dereck Chisora.
“People tried to pay AJ for that obligation to go away, and he still didn’t want to go away. So if we have an interim bout, we’ll have the Usyk fight after.
“Obviously, there are bigger things than boxing on Oleksandr’s mind at the moment and we wish him all the best,” said Hearn.