British boxer will link up with new trainer Robert Garcia but scheduled July date has been pushed back by two-to-three weeks
Anthony Joshua’s rematch with Oleksandr Usyk for three of the four world heavyweight titles belts originally scheduled for July 23 in Saudi Arabia has been delayed until mid-August.
Telegraph Sport understands that the delay to the contest being announced has centred around the broadcast deal for Joshua, with Sky having secured the two-time world champion for its Box Office channel in the UK, while sports streaming platform DAZN will take the international rights for the Londoner.
It’s expected that a further two-to-three weeks will be required to work through the existing issues around the broadcast deals.
The bout will still be in the Middle East, allowing time for Joshua – attempting to claim back the belts he lost on points to the Ukrainian last September and become a three-time world champion – to work with newly-appointed American trainer Robert Garcia.
Eddie Hearn, Joshua’s promoter, has an exclusive broadcast deal with DAZN through his Matchroom Boxing stable. It is also understood that additional time will be required to create a purpose-built stadium, with air-conditioning a prerequisite in what will be searing 40 degree-plus temperatures in the region in its hottest month. The Saudi Arabia group have reportedly bid $120 million (£95.20m) to host the mega-fight.
Hearn warned last week that the heavyweight world championship contest needed to be finalised and confirmed to be on for this summer and it is expected to be made official next week. Usyk, who had been serving in the territorial regiment in his homeland of Ukraine against the Russian invasion, left for a training camp in Poland at the end of May.
Sources close to Joshua suggested to The Telegraph that Joshua will fly Garcia into the UK for the camp, though a period training in Garcia’s hometown of Riverside, California is also being considered. After splitting with long-time trainer Rob McCracken after his defeat against Usyk at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium eight months ago, Joshua embarked on a US sojourn and visited the gyms of renowned American trainers Eddy Reynoso, Ronnie Shields, Virgil Hunter and Garcia. In Garcia, Joshua will team up with a former world champion who also trained his younger brother, Mikey Garcia, to become a four-weight world champion.
Why Garcia is a good fit for Joshua
Joshua, now 32, fought in Saudi Arabia in December 2019 claiming back the belts from Andy Ruiz Jr who had defeated him six months earlier in New York by seventh-round stoppage on Joshua’s US debut.
Garcia, now 47, a world champion at super-featherweight, whose parents crossed the border as illegal immigrants from Mexico and whose family line is steeped in boxing with his father Eduardo having trained him, looks to be a wise choice for Joshua, who was tentative in his first fight with Usyk. Garcia, a wise, calm coach, with excellent tactical nous, is also renowned for the aggressive, pressure-fighting tactics of his boxers, a style which Joshua is likely to embrace in the sequel with Usyk, and which took the Briton on his rise to prominence.
For Joshua, redemption is key in this contest, but would also raise the stakes again for a genuine blockbuster with fellow Briton Tyson Fury for the undisputed heavyweight championship. After defeating Dillian Whyte in April at Wembley Stadium, Fury announced his retirement. That would soon go up in smoke, however, if the fires were lit in the desert from a Joshua triumph over Usyk.