Eddie Hearn Doesn’t Rule Out An Interim Fight for Anthony Joshua
As 3Kings Boxing previously discussed, there is an air of uncertainty for unified heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk (19-0, 13 KOs). His country of Ukraine is currently in the middle of a war with Russia following Russian president Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine.
The situation is so serious that numerous Ukrainian professional athletes have decided to return home, pick up arms, and fight for their country. One of those athletes is Usyk, who has joined the Kyiv Territorial Defense.
As a result, his expected rematch with Anthony “AJ” Joshua (24-2, 22 KOs) is on hold. Because no one is certain when that fight will happen, some are beginning to wonder if Joshua will have an interim fight. During an interview on the MMA Fighting Hour podcast, Joshua’s promoter, Eddie Hearn, expressed sympathy towards Usyk’s plight and a possibility of a stay busy fight for “AJ”.
SHOWING SYMPATHY FOR THE CHAMP
“It’s difficult to speak on behalf of Oleksandr Usyk. First, our thoughts are with everybody in Ukraine. People are showing incredible bravery out there, particularly some of the great fighters of the past, Oleksandr as well.
So, he can have the time that he needs. We don’t want any other fight other than Oleksandr Usyk. Whether there’s a delay to that fight and we have an interim fight bout, I guess that’s subject to the situation regarding Oleksandr Usyk and how much time he needs. It’s a very emotional and personal time for the people of Ukraine. So, we will respect them and give them all the time he needs.
But we wouldn’t be looking to get out of our obligation […] If we have to fight in-between, no problem at all. But we will respect this time for Oleksandr Usyk. We will speak to his advisors, and if there needs to be a delay to the contractual period, we will be happy to grant that. But we want that fight, and we don’t want that obligation to slide away.”
WHAT WILL JOSHUA DO?
Hearn is right to put the unified champ’s concerns first and foremost. Usyk has made it clear that the plight of his people is the top priority. Until there is some clarity in his homeland and tensions ease, a second fight with Joshua will not happen anytime soon.
Given that backdrop, would it behoove Joshua to have a stay-busy fight? Following his loss to Usyk in September 2021, he fired former trainer Robert McCracken. As of this writing, Joshua has yet to announce a new trainer.
It was dicey to bring a different voice heading into an immediate rematch with the likes of a talented southpaw like Usyk. While Joshua has promised to be a pitbull, time is needed to gel with a new man guiding him.
Should “AJ” have a tune-up fight, look for it to be against someone considered to be a safe opponent. An option could be a match with former world title challenger Chris Arreola. At the very least, a fight to stay busy, build confidence, and get comfortable with a new corner would not necessarily be a bad thing. What will Hearn and Joshua exactly do? Stay tuned to 3Kings Boxing for the latest details.
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By: Michael Wilson Jr.