Coming up tonight in Saudi Arabia Anthony Joshua seeks to become the WBA/IBF and WBO title holders, yet again. And, he also returns to scene of his last rematch triumph in December 2019 to get the belts back the first time.
First, Joshua lost in a shocking 7th round TKO to massive underdog and late replacement fighter Andy Ruiz at Madison Square Garden in June 2019. A bout that was supposed to be Joshua’s triumphant American debut in New York. However, after his first professional setback, Joshua quickly invoked his contractual right to an immediate rematch.
So, six months later in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia, Joshua did what he needed to, boxed masterfully and took back the his titles on an easy unanimous decision from an out of shape Ruiz.
After defeating Bulgarian contender Kubrat Pulev by TKO in December 2020, Joshua was hoping to fight an undisputed bout with WBC champ Tyson Fury. However, that never materialized as former champ Deontay Wilder won an arbitration ruling that forced Fury to fight him a third time, instead.
So, the Brit Joshua decided to fight fellow Olympic gold medalist, former undisputed cruiserweight champion and mandatory challenger Oleksandr Usyk last September.
It was supposed to be a brilliant night in front of 67,000 or more at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in North London. But, instead, it was Usyk who put on a great boxing display of movement, the jab and straight left hands that befuddled Joshua. The Ukrainian was in control most of the night and won an upset unanimous decision.
That brings us back to Saturday night. And, also it brings us back to Saudi Arabia.
First, Joshua quickly exercised his immediate rematch clause and the bout with Usyk was scheduled for this Summer. However, the Russian invasion of Usyk’s homeland starting in February, which has taken 10s of thousands of soldiers and civilians lives to this point delayed things until August.
Now, with Matchroom Boxing and promoter Eddie Hearn having negotiated the bout for Jeddah, Saudi Arabia for a believed nine figure “site fee,” the fighters are back and ready to be massively paid to battle again.
Will Joshua be different and this time successful, or will it be a replay of last September and send the fighter who was three years ago being touted as a possible all time great into a third loss in five fights?
We will soon find out, as the card streams on DAZN in the United States and most of the rest of the world beginning at 1 p.m. ET with the main event at approximately 5:30 p.m. ET. It will air on Sky Box Office pay-per-view in the United Kingdom and Ireland.
Hear my thoughts along with our insider Dan Rafael on whether Joshua can get his revenge, who I think wins and why off our Bet US Friday afternoon live Youtube show by clicking below,