IBF/WBA/WBO heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk (19-0, 13 KOs) made it official on Friday that he’s decided to take the rematch with Anthony Joshua and he’ll begin training.
After weeks of uncertainty about whether Usyk would leave Ukraine to take the contractual rematch with Joshua (24-2, 22 KOs), the 2012 Olympic gold medalist informed his followers on Instagram today that he’s ready to begin preparing.
Along with Vasyl Lomachenkio, Usyk has been defending Ukraine in reaction to the Russian invasion. Lomachenko has decided to stay behind to continue defending while Usyk will go ahead and face Joshua in a fight that will likely take place in the final week of June, possibly in the UK.
Joshua has already activated the rematch clause to force the second fight with Usyk, so there’s no other option for the talented Ukrainian. If not for that, Usyk would be taking on WBC champion Tyson Fury for the undisputed championship.
Joshua has taken out the stops to make improvements in his game to find a way to defeat Usyk in the rematch. AJ’s old trainer Rob McCracken has been replaced, but that’s probably not going to be enough for him to beat Usyk.
Joshua’s problems are related to his chin, stamina, lack of confidence, and ring IQ. Those things can’t be fixed by switching trainers.
AJ’s promoter Eddie Hearn has to have mixed feelings about Usyk deciding to return from Ukraine to defend against Joshua in June.
On one hand, Hearn might be pleased that Joshua is getting his wish to face Usyk again to try and avenge his loss in the same manner he did against Andy Ruiz Jr. in December 2019.
But on the other hand, Hearn can’t be happy knowing about what could happen to Joshua should he get decimated by the talented former undisputed cruiserweight champion.
Losing again to Usyk would be a catastrophic event in Joshua’s nine-year professional career. With the losses are piling up, getting beaten again by Usyk, it could be the end for Joshua.
From Hearn’s perspective, he doesn’t have anyone that can replace Joshua in terms of the money he brings in for his fights. Conor Benn will be okay as long as Hearn doesn’t put him in with a good welterweight, but he can’t replace the money Joshua has been bringing in because he’s not good enough to fight elite welterweights.
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