Anthony Joshua to make title defence against Usyk in London

He’ll defend his heavyweight titles against former undisputed cruiserweight champion

Anthony Joshua will defend his WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight titles against former undisputed world cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk as the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. File photograph: PA

Anthony Joshua will defend his WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight titles against former undisputed world cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk as the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. File photograph: PA

 

Anthony Joshua will defend his WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight titles against former undisputed world cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk as the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium hosts a boxing event for the first time on September 25th.

Joshua had seemed on course for a blockbuster all-British showdown against Tyson Fury in Saudi Arabia in August but the bout was scuppered when a United States arbitrator ordered the WBC champion to take on Deontay Wilder again.

While the third part of that contest, scheduled to take place this weekend, has been rearranged for October 9th 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 topped the podium 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. “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.”

Renowned for his nimble footwork, exemplary hand speed and head movement, Usyk collected all four major world belts at cruiserweight and has won all 18 of his professional contests, 13 of which have finished inside the distance.

Having had just two fights in boxing’s blue riband division since stepping up from 200lbs, there remain lingering questions about the Ukrainian’s punch resistance and his ability to trouble the top heavyweights with his power.

“The path will be mastered by the walking one,” said the charismatic Usyk, who at 34 is three years older than Joshua.

Joshua (24 wins, one defeat and 22 KOs) had been scheduled to fight Kubrat Pulev at Spurs’ home ground last June but the coronavirus pandemic led to the contest being switched to Wembley Arena last December, when the Briton retained his titles with a ninth-round knockout victory.

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 25th.”

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