Anthony Joshua vs. Oleksandr Usyk Official for Sept. 25 in London

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Anthony Joshua will defend the WBA, WBO, and IBF heavyweight titles against Oleksandr Usyk on September 25th at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in North London.

Joshua was forced to turn to Usyk after plans to fight fellow Briton Tyson Fury for the right to become boxing’s first four-belt undisputed champion in the heavyweight division was scrapped after a legal issue.

Last year, Joshua and Fury agreed to a two-fight deal where they would unify Joshua’s belts with Fury’s WBC heavyweight title and lineal championship. But after Deontay Wilder brought his case for a third fight with Tyson Fury to the legal arena, things got messed up.

Heavyweight Division in Turmoil

The heavyweight division was put in turmoil after a legal arbitrator ruled last May that Tyson Fury must face Deontay Wilder before September 15th. The decision came just days after a massive undisputed title bout between Joshua and Fury was announced for Saudi Arabia on August 14th.

Aside from crowning boxing’s first undisputed heavyweight champion since Lennox Lewis in 2000, the Joshua vs Fury bout was reported to have a massive site fee of $155M and could’ve easily earned each fighter at least $50M. But with Fury legally obliged to give Wilder a third fight, that bout has been put on hold.

Fury was supposed to fight Wilder on July 24th. However, the Gypsy King had a COVID-19 outbreak in his camp, and Fury was one of three persons who tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. Fury and Wilder are now expected to fight on October 9th and with that pushed back, the all-British undisputed heavyweight fight will be delayed even further.

Waiting in the Wings

Usyk has been waiting in the wings since 2019 when the WBO named him as the mandatory challenger to the winner of the rematch between Joshua and Andy Ruiz. Joshua won that fight and he was expected to fight Usyk next. But with Fury beating Wilder in February 2020, a more salivating undisputed title fight between two of Britain’s biggest boxing stars loomed and Usyk agreed to step aside with the condition that he will get the first crack at who becomes undisputed champion.

The 34-year old from Ukraine won gold in the heavyweight division of the 2011 World Championships and 2012 Olympics. He turned pro in 2013 and later became the first four-belt undisputed champion in the cruiserweight division. After cleaning out the weight class, Usyk decided to move up in weight in search of the big money fights to box in.

Usyk defeated Chazz Witherspoon in his heavyweight debut and then went on to defeat former title challenger Derek Chisora via unanimous decision last October 31, 2020, to become the WBO inter-continental heavyweight champion and solidify his status as mandatory challenger.

Steve Richardson

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