BOXING

Usyk vs Joshua rematch lined up as clause activated

Anthony Joshua has put plans to fight Tyson Fury to one side after activating a rematch clause to face Oleksandr Usyk in early 2022.

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Usyk ready to beat Joshua for a second time after rematch clause 'activated in principle'

Oleksandr Usyk is ready to beat Anthony Joshua for a second time following confirmation that the dethroned heavyweight champion has "activated in principle" a rematch clause.

Usyk-Joshua part II clause activated

Former undisputed cruiserweight champion Usyk outclassed Joshua at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Saturday to win the IBF, WBA and WBO titles by unanimous points decision. Joshua, who is now 24-2 after suffering a second defeat in four fights, said after his latest surprise loss he is "110 per cent" up for a rematch to win back his belts.

Speaking at a news conference in Kiev, Usyk's promoter Alexander Krassyuk confirmed the wheels are in motion for the two men to meet again, likely in early 2022.

"The rematch was specified in the contract," Krassyuk said. "It has already been activated in principle, from the side of Joshua.

"So I remember when we discussed with Oleksandr the issue of rematch, he was delighted and said, 'Wow, cool, I will beat [Anthony] twice'."

Usyk's southpaw stance and smooth footwork troubled Joshua from the outset and the unbeaten Ukrainian left his opponent on the ropes and desperate for the bell in the final round.

However, Joseph Parker – the first man to take Joshua the distance in their 2018 unification fight – has backed the Briton to come back stronger if the rematch goes ahead.

"Usyk showed everyone watching tremendous skill and footwork and movement. You just saw him outbox and outsmart AJ for the 12 rounds," Parker told Stats Perform.

"But [Joshua's] a smart man, and he's got a smart team. He's faced a loss and adversity, and he's come back with a better game plan. That's what he's going to need to do. 

"I think I saw an interview saying he's already watched the fight straight after it happened, and he just needs to make those adjustments and how to counter someone like Usyk.

"Who wins the rematch depends on the training, it depends on who shows up on the day. But going into the rematch, Usyk would have big confidence. 

"It's pretty crazy how he came from the cruiserweight division, unified champion of the world, and then has three fights and he's the unified champion of the world. 

"That's the goal of a lot of heavyweights, to be champion of the world and be unified champ. It's so crazy how things happen."

Hearn targeting February or March 2022

Joshua's promoter Eddie Hearn said he expects the rematch to take place in February or March next year, and it is "very likely to happen in the United Kingdom", as he effectively ruled out staging the high-profile bout in Ukraine.

But two-weight world champion Usyk, who is now 19-0, reiterated his desire to face Joshua in front of a packed crowd at the Olympic Stadium in his homeland.

Usyk said: "How does Hearn know that in February at the Olympic Stadium it is bad to box? Has he ever fought in February at the Olympic Stadium?"