Anthony Joshua set to have home advantage for ‘must-win’ Oleksandr Usyk rematch

The Briton is looking to reclaim the WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight titles he lost to the Ukrainian in September.

By Press Association Published: 7 January 2022 - 6.00pm

Anthony Joshua is set to land home advantage for his quest to claim back his world heavyweight titles from Oleksandr Usyk.

Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn has confirmed he is targeting an April return for the 32-year-old, who had his WBA, IBF and WBO belts ripped from his hands by the Ukrainian in September.

And Hearn believes the bout will head to a stadium venue in London with Tottenham – which staged the previous showdown – and Wembley the front-runners.

Anthony Joshua v Oleksandr Usyk – Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Anthony Joshua is set to fight on home soil again in April (Nick Potts/PA)

Hearn said: “I think April is realistic for the fight. The preferred venue will be the UK, in which case we would have to do the fight outside, and we’re not really interested in doing that in March.

“We’ve had two or three offers from different countries to stage Joshua v Usyk but for me after the success of the Spurs fight – other than the result – I would love to do that fight back in the UK, possibly at Spurs again or at Wembley.

“I feel like it’s a must-win for AJ. If we have the opportunity to stage the fight in the UK we should do it, and if he can win that fight on home soil it would be pretty special.”

Anthony Joshua v Oleksandr Usyk – Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Oleksandr Usyk dominated his first bout with Anthony Joshua (Nick Potts/PA)

Hearn shrugged off concerns that Joshua’s decision to split with career-long trainer Rob McCracken could have a negative impact so soon before a contest that could define the rest of his career.

Joshua, who is currently in Dubai, is yet to confirm the identity of his new trainer, or whether McCracken, who also heads the GB Boxing squad in Sheffield, will have any continuing role to play.

Hearn said: “It is a huge risk but if you feel like you need a change and you can’t go on in a specific way any more, the alternative is much more risky.

“I feel like it's a must-win for AJ. If we have the opportunity to stage the fight in the UK we should do it, and if he can win that fight on home soil it would be pretty special.”
- Eddie Hearn

“If AJ didn’t make any changes and wasn’t comfortable with his approach going into this rematch, I would feel like we shouldn’t be taking the rematch, but the fact he has been so proactive and positive, I know he’ll be comfortable with the decision.

“I’m a lot more at ease than with the flip side, which is to leave it. He needs something fresh and he’s excited. The key for him in this fight is being mentally comfortable with his preparation.”

Hearn’s Matchroom organisation have confirmed a slew of shows for the new year, including a rare Sunday outing for Lawrence Okolie who will defend his WBO cruiserweight title against Michael Cieslak on February 27.

Michael Conlan bids for Leigh Wood’s WBA featherweight belt on March 12, and Josh Warrington’s rematch with Kiko Martinez for the Spaniard’s IBF title will take place at the First Direct Arena in Leeds on March 26.

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