Anthony Joshua to face Oleksandr Usyk on September 25

By Sports Desk July 20, 2021

Anthony Joshua will defend his WBA, WBO and IBF heavyweight titles against former undisputed cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on September 25.

Joshua had been in negotiations to face Tyson Fury in an all-British blockbuster but an arbitration hearing ruled Deontay Wilder had a contractual right to face the WBC champion for a third time.

Fury and Wilder's trilogy showdown was set to take place this weekend before the 'Gypsy King' tested positive for coronavirus.

That bout has now been shifted to October 9 in Las Vegas, meaning Joshua will have another chance to impress before his heavyweight rivals step out again.

That is not to say looking ahead to future contests would be wise for the 31-year-old, given the exceptionally skilled Usyk is intent on cleaning up at heavyweight as he did in the 200lbs division and boasts a professional record of 18 victories and no defeats.

Joshua avenged his shock loss to Andy Ruiz with a lopsided points win over the Mexican-American in Saudi Arabia at the end of 2019. The sole defence of his second reign as champion came with a dominant ninth-round stoppage of Kubrat Pulev at Wembley Arena last December, before Joshua's latest period of Fury-based frustration began.

Usyk has previously enjoyed success in the UK, both when he knocked out Tony Bellew in his final fight at cruiserweight and outpointed the veteran Dereck Chisora last year.

The Ukrainian also won heavyweight gold at London 2012, where Joshua triumphed at super-heavyweight. Indeed, this will be the first professional meeting between men who won Olympic gold medals in those respective categories.

"We are two Olympic gold medallists who have fought our way to the top and never avoided challenges," Joshua said.

"The stadium is exceptional, the atmosphere will be electric. I'm honoured to be the first person to fight in such an awe-inspiring venue. The stage is set and I am ready to handle business."

Joshua's stadium shows have become a fixture of UK boxing in the modern era.

He stopped Wladimir Klitschko in a thrilling Wembley contest in April 2017 before a September 2018 KO of Alexander Povetkin at the same venue – a fight for which Usyk was in attendance.

In between those triumphs, he beat Carlos Takam and then-WBO champion Joseph Parker at Cardiff's Principality Stadium.

In his sole remarks around the fight announcement, Usyk cryptically said: "The path will be mastered by the walking one."

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  • Joshua v Fury still possible despite Usyk setback – Parker Joshua v Fury still possible despite Usyk setback – Parker

    Anthony Joshua must learn from his defeat to Oleksandr Usyk if he is to come back stronger and keep alive the possibility of facing Tyson Fury, according to Joseph Parker.

    Joshua lost his IBF, WBA and WBO titles to Usyk on Saturday after being outclassed by the Ukrainian on home soil at a packed Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

    The 31-year-old had no answer to former undisputed cruiserweight champion Usyk and lost on a unanimous points decision.

    It was just the second defeat of Joshua's professional career, having previously been stopped by Andy Ruiz Jr. in June 2019 before reclaiming the belts in their rematch.

    The prospect of Joshua and Fury facing off now appears slim, with the latter's promoter Frank Warren casting doubt on a bout that at one point looked certain to take place this year.

    A rematch with 19-0 Usyk may now be on the cards for Joshua before he can contemplate facing Fury, who has a third clash with Deontay Wilder coming up on October 9.

    But Parker, who was the first man to take Joshua the distance in their 2018 unification fight in Cardiff, believes there is still hope of an all-British heavyweight clash taking place.

    "I feel like the point is just the best fighting the best," Parker told Stats Perform. "Even though AJ lost that fight to Usyk, he's still considered one of the best. 

    "He's going to go down in history as one of the best heavyweights. I think people want to see the best fight the best and that's a fight that can still happen. 

    "People will still be very interested to see who's the best British heavyweight there is."

    Speaking after his surprise defeat in London at the weekend, Joshua said he is "110 per cent" up for a rematch with Usyk to win back his belts.

    Despite the manner of the defeat, Parker has backed Joshua to put up a far stronger performance if he does step back into the ring with Usyk.

    "I was a little surprised by the defeat," Parker said. "I mean, a lot of other people called it a 50-50 fight, a lot of people said it was going to be a tear up for AJ to win. 

    "But Usyk showed everyone watching tremendous skill and footwork and movement. You just saw him outbox and outsmart AJ for the 12 rounds.

    "But [Joshua's] a smart man and he's got a smart team. He's faced a loss and adversity and he's come back with a better game plan. That's what he's going to need to do. 

    "I think I saw an interview saying he's already watched the fight straight after it happened and he just needs to make those adjustments and how to counter someone like Usyk.

    "Who wins the rematch depends on the training, it depends on who shows up on the day. But going into the rematch, Usyk would have big confidence. 

    "It's pretty crazy how he came from the cruiserweight division, unified champion of the world and then has three fights and he's the unified champion of the world. 

    "That's the goal of a lot of heavyweights, is to be champion of the world and be unified champ. It's so crazy how things happen."

    Joshua followed up his victory over Parker, which saw him retain his WBA, IBF and IBO belts and win the WBO title, with a knockout triumph over Alexander Povetkin.

    The Briton has lost two of his following four fights, however, giving him a record of 24-2 and leading to inevitable suggestions that his career is now declining.

    But Parker said: "It's hard to say if that's the case. From when I fought him, he's had a couple of wins, a loss to Ruiz and come back and beat him again.

    "He's saying that he's improving and getting better, but maybe he just was faced with a fighter who was just different, you know, in his element. 

    "When you see Usyk, with the footwork and the movement - he didn't really allow AJ to land his shots and catch him. He was just in and out and just very smart."

  • Dethroned Joshua would fight Fury without titles after humbling Usyk defeat Dethroned Joshua would fight Fury without titles after humbling Usyk defeat

    Anthony Joshua says he would still fight Tyson Fury without being a world champion after he was emphatically dethroned by Oleksandr Usyk.

    Usyk outclassed Joshua at a packed Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Saturday to take the WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight titles.

    Joshua had no answer to the unbeaten Ukrainian, who secured a masterful unanimous decision victory and looked like stopping the Briton in the final round.

    A rematch with the 19-0 Usyk could be on the cards for Joshua rather than a unification bout with Fury after he suffered the second defeat of his professional career on home soil.

    The 31-year-old declared that he would be eager to fight his compatriot Fury, who faces a third clash with Deontay Wilder on October 9, regardless of whether he has any belts to put on the line.

    "The road to undisputed and all that stuff, it's good," said Joshua, who suffered a badly swollen right eye in his loss in London.

    "As I said, I'll fight Tyson Fury, Wilder, without the belts. The belts are fun. It's great, it's legacy. But with or without the belts, I'll fight whoever.

    "The road to undisputed is a nice title to have and a nice title to chase.

    "But would you still watch it, without the belts? That's the main thing – is you've got two competitive fighters in the ring from UK soil, that just want to go toe-to-toe.!

    Asked if he would want a rematch with Usyk, Joshua said: "100 per cent. 110 per cent.

    "I'm ready to get back to training. Because of the 12 rounds, my lungs and everything, it was a good 12-rounder, so I'll be in a good place when I get back into training to pick up where we left off."

  • Joshua wants immediate Usyk rematch after 'great lesson' in shock loss Joshua wants immediate Usyk rematch after 'great lesson' in shock loss

    Anthony Joshua wants an immediate rematch with Oleksandr Usyk after being dethroned in their heavyweight bout, while the British star was upbeat despite the surprise defeat.

    Joshua was stripped of his IBF, WBA and WBO titles by Usyk, who scored a unanimous points decision in just his third fight since stepping up to heavyweight in London on Saturday.

    Usyk – a former undisputed cruiserweight champion – handed Joshua his second career loss, having previously been stopped by Andy Ruiz Jr. in June 2019 before reclaiming the belts in their rematch.

    Joshua is hoping to do so again with Usyk after falling to 24-2 in front of more than 66,000 fans at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

    "A 100 per cent, a 110 per cent," Joshua said during his post-fight news conference.

    "I'm ready to get back to training. Because I did 12 rounds, my lungs, and everything... I'll be in a good place even I get back to training and pick up where we left off."

    Joshua had hoped to be taking on WBC holder Tyson Fury in a lucrative showdown to decide an undisputed champion in the heavyweight division, but that plan was scuppered when his rival was ordered to face Deontay Wilder for a third time instead. 

    Usyk was the back-up option picked to bridge the gap, the mandatory challenger coming with a superb pedigree but limited experience at heavyweight. 

    Unbeaten as he improved to 19-0, Usyk's southpaw stance and smooth footwork troubled Joshua from the outset and a flurry of punches left his star opponent on the ropes and desperate for the bell in the final round.

    "It's a great lesson today. It was a great lesson," Joshua told reporters.

    "I know, we can look at it from a negative point of view, but for me, I gotta take it as a great lesson and build on that situation... I'm not a weak person. I don't want to be in my bedroom sulking about the situation.

    "I'm looking at it like a great lesson, go back, study and rejuvenate myself because nobody's gonna do it for me."

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