Anthony Joshua gears up for a career-defining fight in July as he looks to win back his heavyweight belts against Oleksandr Usyk.
Joshua, who lost his titles to Usyk last September, is pencilled to rematch the Ukrainian on July 23 in Saudi Arabia. The nation have dished out a reported £90million to host the rematch after original reports stated Wembley and Tottenham Hotspur stadium were potential venues.
A rematch between the pair was recently put in jeopardy after Usyk returned to his native Ukraine to help fight against a Russian invasion. Matchroom Boxing boss Eddie Hearn insisted that the rematch would still take place and Usyk has since confirmed he has left Ukraine to start training for the fight.
Joshua’s coaches were heavily criticised for their approach in his first fight with Usyk, so it’s unsurprising that ‘AJ’ has found a new trainer for the rematch. For the first time in his professional career, Joshua has parted ways with longtime coach Rob McCracken.
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McCracken and Joshua have been together since the 32-year-old won gold in the 2012 London Olympics, but Joshua will now rely solely on the tutelage of Angel Fernandez. The pair first worked together for Joshua’s rematch with Andy Ruiz Jr in late 2019.
Joshua had been pictured in Dubai training with Anthony Wilson and in the US training with the likes of Virgil Hunter during his search for a new coach. Hearn also admitted he thought it was time for Joshua to “move on” from McCracken ahead of the rematch.
A second fight between Joshua and Usyk was almost scrapped when ‘AJ’ considered taking step-aside money to allow an undisputed title fight beween Fury and Usyk. Talks of the deal broke down and Fury was instead booked against WBC mandatory challenger Dillian Whyte.
With the crisis in Ukraine still looming large, boxing has not been on the forefront of Usyk’s mind lately. The 35-year-old joined the Kyiv Territorial Army to help defend from Russian attacks and his wife Kateryna admitted the stress of the ongoing war caused him to lost 10kg in just one week.
“Sasha lost 10 kilograms in a week of the war. He was so horrified, in such shock, he was so torn apart,” she told PravdaTUT Lviv. Usyk has described the horrific scenes in his country that included soldiers shooting at his house and his neighbours being dragged away from their homes.