Anthony Joshua’s contractually obligated rematch with Oleksandr Usyk is currently in a state of limbo, as Usyk is home in Ukraine, where he’s joined a defense battalion against the Russian invasion of the country.
With decisions to make, Joshua is teasing a possible fight announcement on social media:
Announcement soon come pic.twitter.com/cXbREUhf63— Anthony Joshua (@anthonyjoshua) March 17, 2022
Before the war in Ukraine, Matchroom had planned on having Usyk vs Joshua 2 happen in mid-to-late May, and promoter Eddie Hearn addressed the situation a couple of weeks ago, saying that Usyk is still AJ’s priority.
“We obviously respect Oleksandr Usyk and our thoughts are with everybody in Ukraine,” Hearn said. “We’ll give him the time that he needs and we don’t know how long that’s gonna take. The only fight AJ wants is Oleksandr Usyk, so we don’t want that obligation for the rematch to disappear, we don’t want to get out of it, he’s already turned down a lot of money to get out of it — AJ’s got no interest.”
He did mention what could be a possibility here: Joshua fighting for an interim title against another opponent, which would be a risk in that it’s a fight at all, of course, and Joshua is a beatable fighter coming off of a loss.
“If we’ve got to have an interim belt whilst we wait for Oleksandr Usyk, that’s something we’ll look at as well, but we want the Oleksandr Usyk fight and we’ll give him the time and respect that he needs,” the promoter added.
Usyk holds the WBA, IBF, and WBO titles, taken from Joshua last September at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Complicating matters there is that Joshua is not in a top two (or three, for that matter) rankings spot with any of the organizations, and he does not have a mandatory order to face Usyk for any of the belts; Usyk was AJ’s mandatory, and their rematch clause was something optional, requested by Joshua’s side, which Usyk accepted. It was not part of his mandatory order. It is contractual between the fighters, not involving the sanctioning bodies
At the moment — and these things change for loads of reasons, mind you — Joshua is ranked No. 5 with the WBA and No. 4 with both the IBF and WBO.
One thing perhaps worth thinking about is that Anthony Joshua never has fought Derek Chisora, and Chisora — though he’s lost three straight — still has some name value in the UK and could serve as a “keep active” opponent for Joshua. If nothing else, paying customers know Derek Chisora comes to fight.
This could also be pertaining to an announcement that Joshua is launching a new line of sponsored protein shakes or vodka, though.