The hotly-anticipated heavyweight rematch between Anthony Joshua and Oleksandr Usyk takes place next week, with the Briton desperate to reclaim three world titles.
The bout in Saudi Arabia later this month will be shown on Sky Sports Box Office, after Sky outbid DAZN for the rights to the contest in a high-stakes deal in spite of Joshua having left Sky after nine years for a multi-year, multi-fight deal with DAZN, reportedly worth $100 million a year (£83m).
It is understood that the bidding process reached more than $28m (£23.3m). The Saudis paid a reported £98m to host the contest at the King Abdullah Sports City Arena in Jeddah on August 20.
Joshua’s DAZN deal was announced in mid-June, but with Sky claiming the broadcasting rights, it represents a major boost for the television network, given Joshua’s high-profile departure.
Joshua lost the WBA, WBO and IBF belts to Usyk on points last September in London. Talks are already under way for the winner to take on Tyson Fury, the WBC champion, if he returns from retirement, early in 2023.
Eddie Hearn, instrumental in persuading Joshua to switch allegiance to digital sports streaming platform DAZN with whom the promoter has an exclusive deal, remains the event promoter. Usyk and Joshua are set to earn around £50m each. Usyk, 35, now regarded as in the top four pound-for-pound boxers in the sport, heads into the sequel as favourite.
What is it?
A world heavyweight fight between Anthony Joshua and Oleksandr Usyk for the IBF, WBA and WBO belts.
When is it?
The fight will take place on Saturday August 20.
What time are the ring walks?
Very much depends on the undercard, which you can view here, but fighters can be expected to enter in the Jeddah Superdome at about 10.30pm UK time.
Where is it?
The bout will be held in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
How to watch Joshua-Usyk 2 on TV
See above: the fight will be on Sky Sports
What are the fighters’ records?
Anthony Joshua: 26 fights, 24 wins (22 by knockout), 2 defeats
Oleksandr Usyk: 19 fights, 19 wins (13 by knockout), 0 defeats
What is our prediction?
Gareth A Davies, Boxing Correspondent
If Joshua wins, it will be because he implements his gameplan of educated pressure in the early rounds and gains a stoppage in the first seven rounds. If Usyk wins, it will be by withstanding the early pressure, countering and winning on points or by late stoppage between rounds 7 to 11. If I had to bet on it? Usyk
Anthony Joshua says he is determined to be “the comeback king” and avenge his defeat.
Joshua insists this time he is ready for Usyk. “He was better than me on the night in the first fight, but the defeat has motivated me,” Joshua said. “As I did against Andy Ruiz Jr, I have a second chance. Those who know my story know that I did that as a youngster, where I got into trouble.
“I’m the comeback king, you can put me down but you can’t keep me down. I’m 100 per cent focused on being champion again. He kicked my a– for some rounds, and he was the better man on the night.”
Usyk, who has spent three months this year serving in the territorial regiment in his homeland fighting the Russian invasion, said that one of the most difficult moments of his life has been explaining to his children why Russian soldiers ‘want to kill them’.
“I don’t even know how to explain it, all of this,” said the fighter whose home was at one stage taken over by Russian soldiers. “My children are asking ‘father, why do they want to kill us?’ And I don’t know what to answer to them.
“I really didn’t want to leave our country, I didn’t want to leave our city. At one point I went to the hospital where soldiers were wounded and getting rehabilitation from the war and they were telling me, asking me to go, to fight, to fight for the country, fight for our pride. If you’re going to go there, they told me, you’re even going to help more for our country instead of it being here and fighting inside of our country.”
Usyk, speaking through interpreter Egis Klimas, his boxing manager, added: “I know a lot of my close people and friends, close friends, are now on the frontline, fighting. What I’m doing right now is my way of supporting them. With this fight I want to bring them some kind of joy.
“My family is not in Ukraine, but a lot of people I know, my close friends, are inside of the country. I’m in touch with them every day, and I’m checking on their feelings, if they are in a safe place.”
“Every day I was there, I was training, and I was asking God ‘please don’t let anybody deprive the children, please don’t let anybody shoot me, and please don’t let me shoot any other person. But if I would have if I had felt in danger, if my life was in jeopardy, or if my family’s life was in jeopardy. I would have to.”