The rematch everyone knew was happening is officially happening.
Former heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua has exercised his contractual right to a rematch against Oleksandr Usyk, his promoter Eddie Hearn told ESPN. The rematch is reportedly set to take place in early spring.
Last month, Usyk dismantled Joshua to capture the IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight titles, defeating the two-time champ by unanimous decision. Joshua had 30 days to exercise his rematch clause and said he would do so immediately after the first bout.
Joshua will be hoping history repeats when he steps back in the ring against Usyk. In 2019, he fell in even more shocking fashion to Andy Ruiz Jr., then cruised to a win in a contract-stipulated rematch months later. A rematch against Usyk, a former undisputed champion at cruiserweight, figures to represent much more of a challenge than Ruiz, who admitted he was unprepared and overweight after his rematch.
What's left to figure out for Joshua-Usyk rematch?
Beyond the actual date, the location of the rematch remains of some interest.
Usyk said soon after his win that he hoped to hold the rematch in Kiev, the capital of his native Ukraine. However, thanks to the magic of contracts, the final say in the rematch venue rests not with the actual champion but the person who had more leverage going in the first fight.
Hearn has downplayed the possibility of Kiev, hinting that the United Kingdom is the more likely destination. Usyk's win over Joshua was also held in the U.K., at London's Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. There's also the possibility of another country, as the Joshua-Ruiz rematch was held in Saudi Arabia, which paid handsomely to host the bout.
Whoever does come out on top in the spring will have a fairly clear path ahead of them. A unification bout against the WBC champion, be it Tyson Fury or Deontay Wilder, could finally happen after years of delays.