Promoter Eddie Hearn is not concerned that Anthony Joshua won’t be the betting favorite in his upcoming rematch against Oleksandr Usyk.
London’s Joshua and WBO, IBO, WBA, and IBF heavyweight. Champion Usyk of Ukraine are set to face each other in a title unification bout a second time on Aug. 20 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Joshua lost his heavyweight belts to Usyk by unanimous decision last September at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London.
Hearn, the head of Matchroom Boxing, which promotes Joshua, believes his heavyweight charge will perform better as the underdog, a position Joshua has been in very few times in his career, if ever.
“I think that’s fantastic, to be honest with you,” Hearn told IFL TV. “I love AJ as the underdog in this fight, and he is the underdog because he lost the first one. And there is an argument that Usyk may be improving as a heavyweight. He’s getting used to the weight, getting used to fighting guys of that size. I know he’s done it before in the amateurs.
“But I think unquestionably Anthony is the underdog in this fight. And I like that.”
Joshua was still a slight betting favorite in his rematch with Andy Ruiz in 2019 which followed Joshua’s only other professional loss; in their first fight, Ruiz stopped Joshua in the seventh round to record one of the great upsets in recent years. Their rematch saw Joshua outpoint Ruiz over 12 rounds.
Hearn thinks Joshua should receive credit for deciding to fight Usyk a second consecutive time, considering the stakes and manner in which he lost. But Hearn also suggested that Joshua could have gone into a fight with his countryman Tyson Fury, the WBC champion, instead of pursuing a rematch. After defeating Dillian Whyte earlier this spring, Fury himself has adamantly claimed he is retired or that he would require an unrealistically high purse to return to the ring.
“In terms of the general public the one thing I get stopped the most about is when is Anthony Joshua fighting Tyson Fury,” Hearn said. “Well, he’s gotta fight Usyk first. But, yeah, blimey. Again, to be honest with you, AJ probably could've skipped this fight and fought Tyson Fury.
“That fight’s always going to be the biggest in boxing. But he (Joshua) doesn’t want to. He wants to win his belts back. He thinks he can beat Oleksandr Usyk. So he should be getting tremendous credit for not just fighting him once, but going straight back into the rematch.”