Anthony Joshua returns to Saudi Arabia for one more rematch, this time towards 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 experience.
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 predominant 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 resolution to take the rematch there, no less than in competitors phrases, for it put Joshua again in management. He was not solely answerable for the promotion however, in shifting away from each America and his dwelling nation, afforded the luxurious of boxing in a giant ring surrounded principally by silence, which undoubtedly helped.
In the long run, the Ruiz struggle 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 as we speak 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 shall 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, can have remained in first rate form ever since.
These two components will presumably have a higher bearing on the results of the rematch than the situation of the struggle, however, even so, in getting the struggle to Saudi Arabia, the scene of arguably Joshua’s most important win, his workforce have finished all they will to safeguard his psychological state, in addition to offered him the perfect setting to concentrate on executing the sport plan many felt he was missing first time round.
Time will inform. For now, whereas it’s straightforward to grasp why Joshua is returning to Saudi Arabia, each from a monetary standpoint and a contest standpoint, it will be remiss to not specific some disappointment that the rematch isn’t once more going down in the UK, the place struggle one was so successful. One may also make the argument that to ensure that Joshua to actually execute his sport plan – that’s, the one he must neutralise Usyk’s chic southpaw expertise – he’ll in some unspecified time in the future require the roar of the house crowd and all this tends to carry out in him.
Or perhaps, for this rematch, just like the Ruiz one, that noise is exactly what Joshua, 24-2 (22), is hoping to keep away from. Perhaps, by advantage of him fleeing the UK, he in flip escapes the microscope, the questions, and the strain. Perhaps 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 distinct form 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 approach soccer and golf have lately fallen beneath a distinct form 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 as we speak.