All the latest information ahead of the highly anticipated rematch
The sequel between Anthony Joshua and Oleksandr Usyk has been given the go-ahead and is to be announced imminently. But it is likely to spark a bidding battle for the TV rights in the UK after it emerged that the Saudi Arabian consortium, which has reportedly tabled $120 million for the event, hold the broadcast rights within its deal.
It follows news on Monday that Joshua will leave Sky Sports after nine years for a multi-year deal with DAZN which could be up to ten fights. But Telegraph Sport can reveal that broadcast rights have opened the door to Sky Sports if they choose to go into negotiations for one last fight with the former Olympic champion.
BT Sport, also a major broadcaster of boxing having shown Tyson Fury’s contests in the last four years with promoter Frank Warren, could also choose to enter the big fight stakes.
Joshua and Usyk will meet in a rematch in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on either August 13 or 20, sharing a pot of over £100 million. The date and venue are likely to be made official this week. The Telegraph understands, although the television deal could take days to complete.
Joshua’s assignment in the Middle East is an attempt to win back the IBF, WBA and WBO belts from his nemesis Oleksandr Usyk, who befuddled the champion with his boxing skills in London last September to usurp the heavyweight titles.
Regardless of whether DAZN get the fight in Saudi Arabia, Joshua’s ongoing contests will be pay-per-view event for UK viewers on the DAZN platform owned by the billionaire businessman Sir Len Blavatnik.
Joshua, 32, has already fought in Saudi Arabia, in December 2019, avenging the first defeat of against Andy Ruiz in New York six months earlier, for which the Londoner earned a reported £45 million.
Usyk and Joshua are set to earn around £50 million each for the rematch from global earnings. Usyk, 35, is regarded among the top four pound-for-pound boxers in the sport and heads into the second encounter as favourite to retain the titles.
Anthony Joshua says he is determined to be “the comeback king” and avenge his defeat by Oleksandr Usyk last September by becoming a three-time world heavyweight champion when they meet in Jeddah on Aug 20.
The 32-year-old Briton, who will be looking to secure the International Boxing Federation, World Boxing Association, World Boxing Organisation and International Boxing Organisation titles, came face to face with the 35-year-old Ukrainian in the Saudi Arabian city on Tuesday and they will be reunited in London next Wednesday to push what promoter Eddie Hearn is calling “one of the biggest fights in world boxing”.
Joshua insists this time he is ready for Usyk. “He was better than me on the night in the first fight, but the defeat has motivated me,” Joshua said. “As I did against Andy Ruiz Jr, I have a second chance. Those who know my story know that I did that as a youngster, where I got into trouble. I’m the comeback king, you can put me down but you can’t keep me down. I’m 100 per cent focused on being champion again. He kicked my a– for some rounds, and he was the better man on the night.”
The British television rights are still under discussion and an announcement is expected later this week. Joshua’s multi-year, multi-fight deal with digital sports platform DAZN, which was confirmed on Monday last week, does not cover the Usyk fight, which will take place under the patronage of Mohammad bin Salman, who tabled a reported bid of $120million (£98million) for the staging rights.
The Jeddah showdown has already been billed the “Rage on the Red Sea” and it will come almost three years since the “Clash on the Dunes” at the Diriyah Arena which saw Joshua reclaim his heavyweight crowns against Mexican-American Andy Ruiz Jr.
“Definitely the hunger is still there, as I always said from the get-go, stay hungry,” said Joshua. “I just keep the motivation high, blips happen, things happen in life but resilience, mental toughness and consistency will always prevail so we’re still on the road to undisputed for sure. It’s just a little blip on the road but I’m focused on the target which is sitting over there, focused on the goal and, God willing, I will perform and become a three-time heavyweight champion.”
Usyk, who has spent three months this year serving in the territorial regiment in his homeland fighting the Russian invasion, remarked: “As we all know we are not in the best conditions at the moment back at home, but we are doing what we have to do, we are doing our job. Together with my team we are working hard to achieve our goals.”
“I don’t even know how to explain it, all of this,” said the fighter whose home was at one stage taken over by Russian soldiers. “My children are asking ‘father, why do they want to kill us?’ And I don’t know what to answer to them.
“I really didn’t want to leave our country, I didn’t want to leave our city. At one point I went to the hospital where soldiers were wounded and getting rehabilitation from the war and they were telling me, asking me to go, to fight, to fight for the country, fight for our pride. If you’re going to go there, they told me, you’re even going to help more for our country instead of it being here and fighting inside of our country.”
Usyk, speaking through interpreter Egis Klimas, his boxing manager, added: “I know a lot of my close people and friends, close friends, are now on the frontline, fighting. What I’m doing right now is my way of supporting them. With this fight I want to bring them some kind of joy.
“My family is not in Ukraine, but a lot of people I know, my close friends, are inside of the country. I’m in touch with them every day, and I’m checking on their feelings, if they are in a safe place.”
“Every day I was there, I was training, and I was asking God ‘please don’t let anybody deprive the children, please don’t let anybody shoot me, and please don’t let me shoot any other person. But if I would have if I had felt in danger, if my life was in jeopardy, or if my family’s life was in jeopardy. I would have to.”
What is it?
A world heavyweight fight between Anthony Joshua and Oleksandr Usyk for the IBF, WBA and WBO belts.
When is it?
The fight will take place on Saturday August 20.
Where is it?
The bout will be held in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
How to watch Joshua-Usyk II on TV
Joshua’s recent fights have been broadcast on Sky Sports Box Office pay-per-view but a bidding battle is set to go ahead for this fight.