Saturday, July 24, 2021

Anthony Joshua to defend heavyweight titles against Usyk in London

British-Nigerian boxer, Anthony Joshua will defend his World Boxing Association (WBA), International Boxing Federation (IBF) and World Boxing Organization (WBO) heavyweight titles against former undisputed world cruiserweight champion, Oleksandr Usyk at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London on September 25, his promoter announced on Tuesday.

Joshua was set to fight compatriot Tyson Fury in a unification bout in Saudi Arabia in August but that contest was scuppered when a United States arbitrator ruled World Boxing Council champion Fury must defend his title against Deontay Wilder.

While the third part of that contest, scheduled to take place this weekend, has been rearranged for 9 October in Las Vegas following Fury testing positive for Covid-19, it has been announced Joshua will fulfil his WBO mandatory defence in London.

The fight pits two London 2012 gold medallists against each other.

Joshua, 31, was the Olympic champion in the super-heavyweight division while the decorated Usyk reigned supreme in the heavyweight bracket.

“The date is set and we are fully locked in,” said Joshua in a statement issued by Matchroom Sport.

“I put it all on the line again and it’s time to defend my crown. We are two Olympic gold medallists who have fought our way to the top and never avoided challenges. 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.”

Usyk, 34, has won all 18 of his professional contests, 13 inside the distance, but only two of those bouts have been as a heavyweight.

“The path will be mastered by the walking one,” said Usyk.

Joshua defeated just once in 25 professional contests, had been scheduled to fight Kubrat Pulev at Spurs’ home ground in June of last year but the Covid-19 pandemic saw the contest switched to Wembley Arena in December 2020, with Joshua enjoying a ninth-round knockout win.

There were 1,000 fans granted access to that fight, the last time Joshua was in action, but Matchroom is gearing up to welcome in excess of 60,000 spectators at the 62,850-capacity outdoor stadium.

“Olympic gold vs Olympic gold, unified world heavyweight champion vs undisputed cruiserweight world champion, this one has it all,” said Eddie Hearn, Joshua’s promoter.

“I can’t wait to stage this huge event in front of over 60,000 at the stunning Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on September 25.”

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