Land of Hope and Oil: Usyk rematches Joshua in Jeddah on August 20

Anthony Joshua returns to Saudi Arabia for an additional rematch, this time in opposition to Oleksandr Usyk on August 20

THE final time Anthony Joshua wanted to each exorcise the demons of a painful defeat and safe a payday the like of which most different boxers can solely think about, he set sail to Saudi Arabia in December 2019 and dragged alongside a well-fed Andy Ruiz Jnr for the journey.

Collectively, the pair danced with the satan, then ate in hell. They dined initially on Saudi meals with Saudi money earlier than flirting with sheikhs and delivering a pedestrian principal occasion which thrilled no one apart from Joshua, who, to his credit score, boxed sensibly to win on the scorecards. It was, on reflection, a shrewd determination to take the rematch there, at the very least in competitors phrases, for it put Joshua again in management. He was not solely in charge of the promotion however, in shifting away from each America and his dwelling nation, afforded the posh of boxing in a giant ring surrounded principally by silence, which undoubtedly helped.

In the long run, the Ruiz combat resembled a glorified sparring session, one performed out earlier than a crowd too wealthy to concentrate, and Joshua couldn’t have requested for something extra. Certainly, so profitable was the enterprise, the Londoner right this moment introduced he’ll return to Saudi Arabia (the Jeddah Tremendous Dome, Jeddah) on August 20, once more within the hope of reversing a disappointing heavyweight loss.

The distinction this time, after all, is that his opponent will likely be Ukraine’s Oleksandr Usyk, 19-0 (13), somebody who, not like Andy Ruiz, didn’t simply beat Joshua in September 2021 however outclassed him; somebody who, not like Andy Ruiz, may have remained in respectable form ever since.

These two components will presumably have a larger bearing on the results of the rematch than the placement of the combat, however, even so, in getting the combat to Saudi Arabia, the scene of arguably Joshua’s most important win, his group have carried out all they will to safeguard his psychological state, in addition to supplied him the perfect setting to concentrate on executing the sport plan many felt he was missing first time round.

Oleksandr Usyk
Usyk outboxes Joshua (Mark Robinson/Matchroom Boxing)

Time will inform. For now, whereas it’s simple to know why Joshua is returning to Saudi Arabia, each from a monetary perspective and a contest perspective, it might be remiss to not specific some disappointment that the rematch isn’t once more happening in the UK, the place combat one was so successful. One may additionally make the argument that to ensure that Joshua to actually execute his recreation plan – that’s, the one he must neutralise Usyk’s chic southpaw abilities – he’ll sooner or later require the roar of the house crowd and all this tends to carry out in him.

Or possibly, for this rematch, just like the Ruiz one, that noise is exactly what Joshua, 24-2 (22), is hoping to keep away from. Possibly, by advantage of him fleeing the UK, he in flip escapes the microscope, the questions, and the stress. Possibly it’s for the very best.

And but, if certainly that’s the case, he ought to in all probability put together himself for a special sort of microscope in Saudi Arabia. For although having carried out there earlier than, each nothing and the whole lot has modified within the two and a half years since, and in a lot the identical means soccer and golf have just lately fallen underneath a special sort of microscope, so too will Joshua, Usyk, and boxing, a sport whose home has by no means precisely been so as however whose household has by no means appeared as dysfunctional because it does right this moment.

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