Boxing: Joshua to defend heavyweight titles against Usyk in September

Julian Guyer, Agence France-Presse

Posted at Jul 21 2021 09:38 AM

Boxing: Joshua to defend heavyweight titles against Usyk in September 1
British heavyweight boxing challenger Anthony Joshua is pictured during a press conference in Ad Diriyah, a Unesco-listed heritage site, outside Riyadh, on December 4, 2019, ahead of the upcoming "Clash on the Dunes". File photo. Fayez Nureldine, AFP

LONDON -- Britain's Anthony Joshua will defend his World Boxing Association, International Boxing Federation and World Boxing Organization heavyweight titles against Oleksandr Usyk at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London on September 25, his promoter announced on Tuesday.

Joshua was set to fight compatriot Tyson Fury in an unification bout in Saudi Arabia in August but that contest was scuppered when a United States arbitrator ruled World Boxing Council champion Fury must defend his title against Deontay Wilder.

That trilogy contest was scheduled to take place this weekend but has instead been delayed to October 9 in Las Vegas after Fury tested positive for the coronavirus.

Meanwhile, Joshua will now fulfil his mandatory WBO title defence in London, in what will be the first boxing event staged at the new home of Tottenham Hotspur football club.

Victory could pave the way for a 'super-fight' with Fury, provided his compatriot sees off American boxer Wilder in their third meeting after a December 2018 draw was followed by a February 2020 seventh-round technical knockout for the Briton. 

By taking on Ukraine's Usyk, a former undisputed world cruiserweight champion, Joshua will be facing a fellow London 2012 gold medallist.

Joshua was the Olympic champion in the super-heavyweight category at those Games, with Usyk topping the podium in the heavyweight division.

"The date is set and we are fully locked in," said Joshua in a statement issued by Matchroom Sport. 

"I put it all on the line again and it's time to defend my crown. We are two Olympic gold medallists who have fought our way to the top and never avoided challenges."

Usyk has won all 18 of his professional contests, 13 inside the distance, but only two of thouse bouts have been as a heavyweight.

"The path will be mastered by the walking one," said Usyk, who at 34 is three years older than Joshua.

The British boxer, defeated just once in 25 professional contests, had been scheduled to fight Kubrat Pulev at Spurs' home ground in June of last year but the Covid-19 pandemic saw the contest switched to Wembley Arena in December 2020, with Joshua enjoying a ninth-round knockout win.

Only some 1,000 fans were able to witness that fight live but Matchroom supremo Eddie Hearn, Joshua's promoter, said he was expecting a crowd of more than 60,000 at the 62,850 capacity Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. 

"Olympic gold vs Olympic gold, unified world heavyweight champion vs undisputed cruiserweight world champion this one has it all," said Hearn.

Usyk's most recent bout came in a points decision win over another British boxer Derek Chisora in October last year.

Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy welcomed the fight coming to the north London club's home.

"Anthony Joshua is an icon in the world of sport and to have him fight here in London N17, against a top opponent in Oleksandr Usyk, will be amazing for the area of Tottenham," he said.

"This event will once again showcase the stadium's ability to take the hosting of world-class sporting occasions to the next level -- we cannot wait for September 25."

© Agence France-Presse