Oleksandr Usyk and Anthony Joshua will vie for Ring heavyweight championship
With Tyson Fury having officially vacated The Ring heavyweight championship, that void will now be filled with the winner of next Saturday’s eagerly anticipated rematch between Oleksandr Usyk and Anthony Joshua, which takes place in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
Usyk, who is rated No. 1 by The Ring at heavyweight, scored a decisive 12-round unanimous decision over Joshua last September to claim IBF, WBA and WBO titles. If he can repeat that epic triumph, the Ukrainian lefty would become the first former Ring cruiserweight champion to claim the heavyweight version (Editor’s Note: Evander Holyfield would have accomplished that feat had there been a championship policy in place during his title reigns.)
Joshua, who is rated No. 2 by The Ring, is desperate to avenge the Usyk setback. Should he achieve his goal of becoming a three-time champion, he would also join Lennox Lewis and Fury as one of only three British fighters to claim The Ring heavyweight title. Following his only other defeat – a seventh-round stoppage loss to Andy Ruiz in June 2019 – Joshua managed to turn the tables with a dominant decision victory.
Usyk-Joshua 2 is repeat or revenge with additional treasure up for grabs.
“Amongst the fighters, The Ring Magazine belt has so much prestige,” said Matchroom promoter Eddie Hearn in response to the championship being at stake. “I know for Anthony Joshua, he’s wanted to win this title for a long time. This gives him added motivation for victory next week. And I believe, come [next] Saturday night, Anthony Joshua will become the new Ring Magazine world champion.
“First and foremost, AJ wants the victory because he’s a competitor. He wants his world heavyweight championship belts back, but The Ring belt was there when it was him and [Deontay] Wilder at the top. We were trying to get that belt on the line for big fights then. This is a huge motivation for him going into Saturday.”
“The winner of the Usyk-Joshua rematch will undoubtedly be a worthy Ring heavyweight champion,” stated editor-in-chief Doug Fisher.
“The first fight in London was The Ring’s Event of the Year for 2021. It signaled Usyk’s arrival as an elite-level heavyweight, but he is also one of the finest pound for pound fighters in the world today. Joshua is a former two-time heavyweight titleholder and his resume speaks for itself.”
“I would also like to congratulate Tyson Fury on a wonderful career.”
And what does Hearn think about Fury’s retirement and subsequent vacating of The Ring championship?
“Fury is an incredible fighter,” he acknowledged. “The comeback he made in his personal life and getting back into the sport was remarkable, but the performances have been exceptional.
“I do believe he’ll return to the sport, especially if AJ wins. Who knows, you may see him re-emerge for the undisputed heavyweight championship. But if he doesn’t, we wish him all the happiness and success. He’s been a tremendous fighter.”
With a new Ring Magazine champion in waiting, Hearn is obviously Team Joshua. In fact, the Matchroom boss believes that this could be a quick night and that the sequel will top the original for action.
“I don’t think the fight goes six rounds,” said Hearn. “I think Usyk is going to be aggressive and he knows AJ is going to be aggressive. He doesn’t want to be back up and bullied. I think he’s coming in heavy, he’s going to take the fight to AJ, and I don’t think this fight goes six rounds. I think it’s going to be a fantastic fight.”
Tom Gray is managing editor for Ring Magazine. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing