Anthony Joshua fight with Oleksandr Usyk has been pushed back to late September, according to Eddie Hearn.
Hearn says Joshua’s fight with Usyk, the WBO’s mandatory contender, has basically been agreed, although it will not now take place, as had been expected, in August. Wembley Stadium or the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, where he had originally been due to face Kubrat Pulev last summer, are the two possible venues.
“September 18 or 25 are the dates,” Hearn said. “And it is either Wembley or Spurs.
“Today K2 (Usyk’s promoters) replied to a contract with a couple of minor questions that I don’t think will pose any problems.
“I think there are no issues with the fight and it is the one you will see next.”
Joshua had been expecting to face Tyson Fury in August in Saudi Arabia, but when that fight fell through, after a US judge decided that Fury owed a fight to Deontay Wilder, Joshua’s WBO mandatory became due.
It had been suggested that Joshua might decide to vacate the belt to take an alternative fight, but Hearn insists that will not happen.
But he says he wanted to take a break after the Fury fight fell through to prepare for Usyk properly, having lost to Andy Ruiz Jr in 2019 when he stepped in at short notice.
“AJ knows how good Usyk is but AJ wants to do a job on him but he also knows people are unsure about him winning the fight, and I think he likes that,” Hearn said.
“He has done four weeks of southpaw sparring up in Sheffield and he is gearing himself up for a big fight. We just hope that everywhere is open because we want to do 60-70,000 at Spurs. It would still be viable but it would affect how much they make.
“I believe it does a million PPV buys, it is bigger than the Povetkin and Pulev wins. It’s even the extra 20-30,000 people in revenue, it’s the spectacle. It’s a very tough fight and I want to create the right environment. It will happen regardless of the capacity but just for the event I want it full.”
Hearn said that any wrangling over Usyk’s purse has been settled.
“Usyk was not saying he wants the opportunity to fight for the bouts, the first thing he said was, ‘I want more money’,” Hearn said. “But AJ is the jackpot and that is the job.
“Thankfully the governing body decided a fair split of 80-20 in black and white.”
Hearn says he is still hopeful that a fight with Fury will happen if both win, but he says Joshua is doubtful, hence his outburst on Twitter when the fight fell through.
“He never felt they wanted the fight, he never felt like Fury wanted it,” Hearn said.
“He always doubted it and when it fell through he was like ‘I f------ knew it, you’re f------ jokes, all of you’.
“It was very strange to see him do it and he fired a few out, he usually does one and goes quiet.
“AJ, in his head, probably thinks the fight will never happen. I would like to be more hopeful and I think it will happen.
“If AJ knocks out Usyk and Fury knocks out Wilder then, in four months’ time, we are talking about an even bigger fight.
“One could lose or look bad but I do get the feeling if they both win then the fight is huge. I am hoping it works out for the best.”
Ron Lewis is a senior writer for BoxingScene. He was Boxing Correspondent for The Times, where he worked from 2001-2019 - covering four Olympic Games and numerous world title fights across the globe. He has written about boxing for a wide variety of publications worldwide since the 1980s.