Usyk-Joshua Rematch Headed For Saudi Arabia?
Stop us, if you’ve heard this before, but Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn has apparently secured a deal with Saudi Arabian investors for the highly anticipated Oleksandr Usyk-Anthony Joshua Unified Heavyweight title rematch likely in late June.
At least that’s according to the British tabloid newspaper the Daily Mail, which reported Monday evening there that the deal was done for somewhere around $120 million to have a second huge Heavyweight title bout in the Middle Eastern desert in three years.
— MailOnline Sport (@MailSport) March 28, 2022
From the Mail’s reporting on the deal with Matchroom and the Saudi investors,
A mega-million-dollars deal to move Joshua’s bid to regain his WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO titles away from London was reached in principal at Middle East time last night, with June 25 earmarked as the most likely date.
Agreement came as the Formula 1 circus was in the last stages of packing up to move out of Jeddah after Sunday’s Grand Prix went ahead despite a massive rocket attack on a Saudi oil installation just 12 miles from the track.
Joshua fought there in December 2019, in a similar rematch against Andy Ruiz who had inflicted AJ’s first defeat and first loss of his titles. The return clash with Usyk had looked to be heading back to London, at either the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, where AJ was thrashed in their first fight, or Wembley Stadium.
But Saudi money has spoken again. This time more extravagantly than ever when the Kingdom turns to sport to help its image building in the face of human rights controversies.
The site fee is understood to be ‘more than double’ the $50m (£38.2m) the ruling Sheikhs shelled out for Max Verstappen, Lewis Hamilton and Co to risk driving under the blazing, smoking shadow of that terrorist attack. Probably $120m (£91.7m) this time, a third more than the $80m (£61m) they paid for Joshua-Ruiz II.
In reference to “having heard this before” Hearn touted for months in late 2020 and early 2021 that he had the money and the ability to stage the proposed Joshua-Tyson Fury Undisputed Heavyweight title fight in Saudi Arabia. However, delay after delay, month after month ended with nothing getting done. And, what turned out to be a gigantic waste of everyone’s time.
This as Joshua-Fury never got made and Fury was eventually ordered to and did fight Deontay Wilder for third time, Fury scored a second straight KO of Wilder in October and is now set to defend his title against Dillian Whyte next Month.
Meanwhile, as we reported last week, a major hurdle for the Usyk-Joshua rematch was cleared when the unbeaten Ukrainian champion was allowed to leave his home country, which has been under attack from the Russian army, etc., to prepare to rematch Joshua.
Usyk and his immediate family have been in hiding during the Russian attacks, but he’s now being given an exemption from the Ukrainian government to evacuate the country with them and train elsewhere for the Joshua rematch.
We still await official confirmation from Hearn/Matchroom on date and site of the Usyk-Joshua.
And, while we do, it’s important to keep in mind that we were all figuratively right here, waiting, week after week in early 2021 for a proposed deal for Joshua-Fury that never got finalized.