Usyk rematch with Joshua set for July 23 with Saudi Arabia 'likely' venue

Ukrainian world champion, who dominated the initial bout last September, recently began training camp

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The rematch between Anthony Joshua and Oleksandr Usyk has been set for July 23, with Saudi Arabia in the running to host, according to reports.

ESPN reported on Friday that a summer date had been finalised, saying the second meeting of the heavyweights is “likely” to take place in the kingdom.

Usyk, 35, defeated then-world champion Joshua in London in September by unanimous decision to claim the WBA, WBO, IBF and IBO belts. The Ukrainian, a former undisputed cruiserweight champion, dominated the contest to win 117-112, 116-112 and 115-113.

Following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Usyk returned to his homeland to join a territorial defence battalion, raising doubts about an immediate rematch with Joshua.

Speaking this week to YouTube channel Blockasset, Usyk said: "Luckily I did not see much of war. But what I see and what I know from my relatives and my friends is terrible. Some of my friends are missing and we do not know where they are now. Many of my relatives lost their homes and lost their friends and loved ones.

"All that is going on now is quite horrible in Ukraine. Every day I pray for the soonest possible end of this horror. In comparison with war, boxing is child's play."

The winner of Usyk-Joshua could then set up a unification bout with WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury, should the Briton defeat Dillian Whtye at Wembley Stadium later this month.

Last month, Usyk's promoter Alexander Krassyuk said the Joshua rematch could be staged in Saudi. However, on Friday, Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn told British media: “We're in final negotiations for a couple of sites for either the end of June or early-to-mid-July. I reckon within two weeks we'll have some news in terms of where that's going to be.

"An option is in the UK. The difference is, we don't really need negotiations with a venue in the UK, we just book it."

Updated: April 09, 2022, 10:13 AM