Eddie Hearn expects Anthony Joshua to embrace an immediate rematch with Oleksandr Usyk.
The former heavyweight champion mentioned facing Usyk again next just a few minutes after the unbeaten Ukrainian southpaw out-boxed him to win the IBF, IBO, WBA and WBO titles Saturday night in London. Joshua has an immediate rematch clause in his contract, which his promoter senses he’ll exercise.
As much as Hearn would want Joshua to take a non-title, confidence-building bout against a less imposing opponent, that isn’t a practical option from a business standpoint because it would allow Usyk to fight someone other than Joshua next. Assuming Joshua hasn’t suffered a fractured right eye socket, as Hearn noted during their post-fight press conference, the British superstar’s promoter thinks their second fight could be scheduled for February or March, preferably somewhere in the United Kingdom.
Their fight Saturday night drew a capacity crowd of nearly 70,000 to Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
“I don’t know – February, March,” Hearn said. “I mean, I’d like to do it in the UK again. But again, we’ll sit down with Alex Krassyuk and talk about [it]. You know, there’s already been a few people on that are interested in staging the rematch. I’d like to do it in the UK. I think, obviously, that would be a benefit to AJ. I thought the atmosphere tonight was unbelievable. But again, you know, we’ll sit down with Alex Krassyuk and Egis and see what makes most sense for both guys.”
Hearn doesn’t think Krassyuk, the general director for K2 Promotions, or Egis Klimas, Usyk’s manager, will push for their immediate rematch to be staged in Ukraine. Joshua-Usyk II makes more sense from an economic standpoint in the UK, where boxing is very popular.
“Very unlikely, I think,” Hearn replied when asked if Ukraine is an option for their rematch. “Ukraine’s not great in February. No, on a serious note, we will work together to maximize the revenue. Ukraine is very unlikely, to be honest. I think it’ll be international or it will be in the UK. But I would think it will be in the UK.”
The 34-year-old Usyk (19-0, 13 KOs) beat Joshua (24-2, 22 KOs) convincingly on two scorecards, despite that their fight was held in the country where Joshua is an enormous mainstream star. Judges Viktor Fesechko (117-111), Steve Weisfeld (116-112) and Howard Foster (115-113) scored nine, eight and seven rounds respectively for the former undisputed cruiserweight champion.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.