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Boxing: Anthony Joshua v Oleksandr Usyk II

20 June 2022 11:52:22 EST
Anthony Joshua to fight Oleksandr Usyk for a second time on 20th August

Anthony Joshua and Oleksandr Usyk's long-awaited rematch has finally been given a date with the 20th August set aside for the heavyweight duo to renew old rivalries.

Usyk currently holds the WBA (Super), IBF, and WBO heavyweight titles after causing an upset at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London.

The Ukrainian fighter unsettled Joshua on several occasions before the fight drew to a close after 12 pulsating rounds, with all judges declaring Usyk the victor.

Joshua suffered only the second loss of his career and he will be desperate to reclaim his belts after being dethroned by a boxer who had spent much of his career fighting at cruiserweight.

Saudi Arabia is the venue for the fight with Joshua previously beating Andy Ruiz Jr in the Gulf state - another bout where he had to regain his belts.

What: Usyk v Joshua II - The Rage on the Red Sea
Where: Jeddah Super Dome, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
When: Saturday 20th August
How to watch: DAZN
Odds: Usyk 1.44, Joshua 2.87

AJ under big pressure

This is without question the biggest fight of Joshua's career as he looks to reclaim his belts and stand at the top of the heavyweight game.

Win this fight and he proves himself as a dogged fighter who can bounce back from setbacks, even against skilled fighters such as Usyk.

If he loses, however, then there will be big questions to answer about Joshua's capability to box against the best in the business.

His punching power and stamina have never been in question but his losses against Ruiz Jr and Usyk did raise queries about his boxing IQ and ability to make the correct decisions in the ring.

Joshua has achieved plenty in boxing and the chance to become a three-time unified heavyweight champion shows that he has bundles of ability.

But, for true greatness, he has to overcome this test and it will not be easy against Usyk, who is pound-for-pound one of the best boxers around.

That being said, Joshua accompanied the announcement with his usual confidence, saying: "A happy fighter is a dangerous fighter and I am the happiest and most motivated I have been."

Usyk set for an emotional fight

Lots has changed in Oleksandr Usyk's life since his win against Joshua back in the autumn.

Despite his unanimous win, a rematch was always on the cards but the Russian invasion of Ukraine has brought about huge challenges for Usyk and his country.

He was given special permission to leave Ukraine in March in order to start his preparations for meeting Joshua, and now all the logistics have been sorted out for August.

Usyk has been widely known around boxing circles as a very capable fighter and his demolition job on Joshua in the first fight proved that beyond a reasonable doubt.

The 35-year-old has never been beaten in 19 professional fights, with the southpaw beating Murat Gassiev and Tony Bellew to become undisputed cruiserweight champion.

Standing at 6ft 5, he decided to chance his arm at heavyweight level and following wins against Chazz Witherspoon and Derek Chisora, he was the mandatory WBO challenger after Joshua and Tyson Fury could not agree terms on an all-British heavyweight fight.

His quick actions and feints saw him control Joshua and send him around the ring.

Usyk's ability to dodge Joshua's punches ultimately saw him conquer the Briton and a devastating shot in the ninth saw Joshua struggle through the last few rounds - admitting after that he couldn't see for the final quarter of the bout.

Now, Usyk will have huge support ahead of the rematch and there will unquestionably be an element of patriotic pride in how he approaches his next tussle.

What could await the winner?

Certainly, if Joshua wins, then the speculation will go into overdrive over a potential bout with Fury to become an undisputed champion.

The 'Gypsy King' announced he would be retiring following his knockout defeat of Dillian Whyte in the spring but, boxers are notoriously capricious characters and if given the right offer, there is no doubt that Fury could don the gloves once more.

It's fair to imagine there would be less of an appetite for Fury to get back in the ring if Usyk defeats Joshua but the prospect of a unified, undisputed fight would still be mouth-watering.

For now though, Usyk and Joshua will focus on their trip to Saudi Arabia in August. For Joshua in particular, this one will be a career definer.

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