Via Barry Holbrook: Oleksandr Usyk has decided to proceed with a contract rematch with Anthony Joshua after being given the green light by Ukraine’s Sports Minister to leave the country to start training.
ESPN’s Mike Coppinger is reporting that Usyk has been allowed to leave. With that said, we need to wait and see this approach until Usyk actually leaves Ukraine and is on his way to training camp.
Usyk has been defending his country Ukraine for several weeks since the Russian invasion. It will be very difficult for Usyk, 34, to leave Ukraine in the current situation with the war raging with no end in sight for the foreseeable future.
Last September, 2012 Olympic gold medalist Usyk shocked the world by defeating Joshua with a unanimous decision in the 12th round in front of a stadium packed with AJ supporters at Tottenham Hotspurs in London.
Usyk entered the fight with Joshua as a significantly weaker underdog, but he easily knocked the much larger fighter and almost had to stop him in the 12th round.
“Oleksandr Usyk has been given permission by Ukraine’s Minister of Sports to leave the country during the war and will begin training camp for a summer rematch with Anthony Joshua for the unified heavyweight championship,” said Mike Coppinger.
Despite the above report, Hearn suggested that Usyk would choose to stay in Ukraine and fight rather than leave the country to defend his IBF/WBA/WBO heavyweight title against Anthony Joshua at the end of June.
Hearn said that Usyk (19-0, 13 KOs) could choose to follow the same path as compatriot Vasyl Lomachenko, who decided not to leave Ukraine to face lightweight champion George Kambosos Jr. on June 5 in Australia.
Lomachenko decided to stay and fight the Russian invasion instead of leaving Ukraine to face the 135 lb four-belt Kambosos champion in Melbourne in a stadium match.
Although Usyk has a contract to face Joshua in a rematch, the circumstances are different, as his country is in a state of war with Russia, and the men between the ages of 18 and 60 must stay behind. and fight.
Hearn said he will learn more about Usyk’s condition this week. If Usyk decides to stay in Ukraine, Joshua will have a temporary fight in June with either Joe Joyce or Otto Wallin. Joyce is Hearn’s favorite choice right now, but Joshua will be the one to make the decision.
Usyk and Lomachenko were given permission by the government to leave Ukraine last week so they could fight. At first, it was thought that the two would leave, fight, and then return to Ukraine. However, Lomachenko decided to stay in Ukraine, and as Hearn suspected, Usyk would do the same.
“I think you’ll see AJ in June. Depends a lot on Usyk. I believed that a couple of days ago he was actually quite capable of hitting this fight with AJ,” Eddie Hearn told. TalkSport Boxing.
“You saw Vasyl Lomachenko come out last night and say, ‘I’m not going to fight [George] Kambosos. I will stay in Ukraine. ‘ Usyk will follow?
“We are happy to give them the opportunity to be with their families, to be with their country, but AJ needs to fight. He’s ready in June against Usyk, that’s the absolute priority, or against an interim opponent,” Hearn said.
Usyk promoter Alex Krassyuk should shed some light on his condition today as Hearn talks to him.
If Usyk decides not to leave the country, Hearn wants to fight Joshua with a nampaw opponent to help prepare for one final fight. In addition to Joyce and Wallin, Hearn said Luis Ortiz is also a possibility.
These are the fighters Joshua has picked out and he will take a huge risk facing one of them. But if Joshua can’t beat the heavyweights in this category, he certainly won’t have much of a chance to beat Usyk in the rematch.
Hearn hasn’t said what he will do if Joshua loses the interim bout. Will he retire or continue pressuring his faltering career and insist on a rematch against Usyk?