DAZN and promoter Eddie Hearn announced Tuesday that Anthony Joshua will make his long-awaited title defense against challenger Oleksandr Usyk on September 25th in London, England. Usyk was granted his mandatory position by the WBO by virtue of being their champion in the weight class below (cruiserweight).
Up until recently, it appeared that Usyk would have to wait his turn while Joshua took on fellow Brit Tyson Fury in a massive undisputed unification bout. However, Deontay Wilder’s team came out on top in arbitration, meaning Fury will have to defend his WBC title for the first time against the man he won it against well over a year ago, and freeing Joshua to take on his mandatory in Usyk.
This is a big fight in its own right, and definitely no gimme for Joshua. As Eddie Hearn pointed out in the announcement, both men are Olympic Gold medalists, and Usyk has demonstrated his bonafides by unifying the cruiserweight division in a historic run through the WBSS. His subsequent two-fight entry into the heavyweight division has been a little underwhelming, most recently going life-and-death with Derek Chisora in October, 2020.
However, his excellent boxing ability and tricky southpaw style looks to be one that could give Anthony Joshua some problems. For Joshua, he has emerged a much more cautious boxer-puncher after his disastrous first meeting with Andy Ruiz in June 2019 before winning his titles back later that year. He flattened challenger Kubrat Pulev in the 9th round of their December meeting, and will look to build on that success against a much more worthy opponent this time around.