Oleksandr Usyk vs. Anthony Joshua Rematch Fight on Hold After Invasion of Ukraine | Bleacher Report

 Oleksandr Usyk vs. Anthony Joshua Rematch Fight on Hold After Invasion of Ukraine | Bleacher Report

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The heavyweight boxing title rematch between champion Oleksandr Usyk and challenger Anthony Joshua will be put on hold amid Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

Usyk, who hails from Ukraine, has joined a territorial defense battalion, per ESPN’s Mike Coppinger.

“I really don’t know when I’m going to be stepping back in the ring,” Usyk told CNN Wednesday in remarks translated to English.

“My country and my honor are more important to me than a championship belt.”

Usyk defeated Joshua via unanimous decision last September to become the unified heavyweight champion. Joshua activated his rematch clause, and the two were set to fight in May or June of this year.

However, it’s unknown when the two will fight now with Usyk joining Ukraine’s defense.

“I don’t want to shoot,” he said. “I don’t want to kill anybody, but if they will be killing me, I will have no choice.”

Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing, who is promoting the Joshua rematch, spoke with Coppinger on the matter:

“It’s a very unique, personal, emotional situation and I don’t think we can really fathom what’s going on there and what’s going through the minds of people involved there. So for us, of course, utmost respect for Oleksandr Usyk.

“We don’t want the obligation of a rematch to go away. So, we’ll wait as long as Oleksandr Usyk needs during this difficult time for him.”

The 35-year-old Usyk is 19-0 lifetime with 13 knockouts. The 32-year-old Joshua is 24-2 with 22 wins by knockout.

As far as Joshua goes, he was previously offered an interim fight prior to the Usyk bout in January. Specifically, promoter Frank Warren posited the idea of ​​Joshua fighting Joe Joyce or Daniel Dubois.

“If he wants to fight before hand, fight Joe Joyce or Daniel Dubois,” Warren told the Lowdown by Queensberry Promotions (h / t Ben Davies of the Mirror) in part. “They are very, very good fights.”

Hearn said the potential of Joshua fighting an interim bout now with Usyk joining Ukraine’s defense is possible if there’s an extended delay, per Coppinger.

The Usyk fight was Joshua’s only time in the ring since December 2020, when he beat Kubrat Pulev via ninth-round knockout to retain the WBA (Super), IBF, WBO and IBO heavyweight titles.

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