Eddie Hearn has no intention of letting his star heavyweight charge move off his typical fighting schedule.
Anthony Joshua, the former unified heavyweight champion from London, has fought mostly twice a year going back to 2017. His activity, however, has dimmed in the past couple of years mostly because of the global coronavirus pandemic. He fought only once in 2020, against Kubrat Pulev, and last year, against Ukrainian champion Oleksandr Usyk.
Joshua is expected to fight Usyk again in a rematch reportedly set for July 23 in Saudi Arabia. Usyk wrested the WBA, WBO, and IBF heavyweight titles from Joshua last September at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London.
Their ballyhooed bout, however, has yet to be officially announced. Hearn acknowledged in a recent interview that putting the fight together has taken longer than he would have wanted and hinted, moreover, that there may be a slight delay which could force it to land in early August.
Hearn unequivocally stated, though, that he expects the fight to happen and that Joshua would be fighting one more time before the end of the calendar year.
“AJ’s fighting twice this year,” Hearn told IFL TV. “Any delay can only be a couple of weeks because we want to make sure that he’s good to go in December again.
“July 23rd is still the working date. If there was a delay, it wouldn’t be a major issue for anybody. It’s just time. It’s a huge deal. It has taken a long time as deals do. We’re really happy with our partners. We’re really happy with the deal, and we’re really happy with the process and we look forward to doing a huge event. You’ll be hearing about it very soon.”
Hearn said Saudi Arabia remains the “frontrunner” to land the Joshua-Usyk rematch. The southpaw (19-0, 13 KOs) Usyk defeated Joshua (24-2, 22 KOs) by points in the first meeting.
“We have agreed a deal with the site and working date of July 23rd,” Hearn said. “We are pretty much ready to announce. If there is a delay it’s for no other reason than just time and making sure we can promote the fight in the right way.
“The fight is happening. The fight is agreed as to where it will take place. Both sides have agreed to the deal. Both sides have agreed [to] everything. It’s just probably taken 10 days longer than we wanted it to.”
The rematch looked to be in jeopardy earlier this year after Usyk decided to enlist in the Ukrainian army in order to help defend his country from the Russian invasion. But a few weeks later, Usyk decided it would be more beneficial to his country if he defended his newly-won heavyweight belts in a bid to call attention to his country’s war effort.