Anthony Joshua is set for home advantage when he takes on Oleksandr Usyk in his ‘must-win’ world title rematch this April.

Usyk dazzled at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in September to claim the WBA, WBO and IBF heavyweight titles via a unanimous decision over Joshua.

It was unclear whether or not the beaten Londoner would head straight for a return with Usyk with a potential four-belt unification with Tyson Fury also possible for the Ukrainian southpaw.

However, Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn says Joshua has been training solidly since that night at Tottenham and they are now hoping to seal a deal for a return back in the UK this April.

Hearn said: “For us, the preferred date and venue for that fight will be the UK, in which case we would have to do the fight outside, so we’re not really interested in doing that fight in March.


“I think April is realistic. AJ has been training relatively solidly since the fight. Realistically if you start your training camp in February, even April becomes quite tight but that is the preferred date for the fight and I think that’s realistic.

“We have the ability to stage the fight where we want but at the same time it has to generate enough money to know that we’ve done our jobs. Kyiv is not the place to generate money.

Usyk celebrates defeating Joshua at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium

“We’ve had two or three offers from different countries to stage Joshua v Usyk but for me after the success of the Spurs fight, other than the result, I would love to do that fight back in the UK, possibly at Spurs again or at Wembley, because I feel like it’s a must-win for AJ.

“If we had the opportunity to stage the fight in the UK we should do it, and if he can win that fight on that soil it would be pretty special.”

Joshua himself had suggested that he may be open to stepping aside to allow Usyk and Fury, the WBC champion, to clash for all four heavyweight titles on the basis that it made business sense to him. But Hearn has revealed that they received no real proposal of the sort, clearing the path for an immediate rematch with Usyk.

“I was a bit scared to have the conversation with Joshua about stepping aside. When I first mentioned it he looked like he was going to kill me,” he said.

“Then I went back there again and he said: ‘Listen, if you feel there’s something you should propose to me, but I’m telling you I don’t want to step aside, it would have to be something you feel was too big an opportunity to turn down.’ And we never really got to that stage.

“We got to the stage where the mechanics of the procedure didn’t make sense. I never formally went to him and sat down and said this is how it’s going to work. Once you step aside it’s not about the money. Of course that comes into it, but it’s more about the plan.

“You’re getting to a point where you’re running out of time to put on a fight of that magnitude and make sure contractually all the other people are satisfied, and they get what they want. In the end, time ran out and we just said let’s do what we’ve got to do.”

Joshua is expected to return to full training camp once his holiday in Dubai is over and it is still unclear whether Rob McCracken, the man behind his Olympic gold medal and two world titles in the paid ranks, will remain involved.

The 6ft 5in heavyweight toured America in the wake of his defeat to Usyk as he visited a number of potential new trainers. Even Floyd Mayweather was videoed giving him tips during a recent training session in Dubai. But Hearn says Joshua has made a decision on his new coach already and an announcement will be made on his return to home soil.

“We know really where we’re heading from a training perspective and the set-up for the next fight,” Hearn insisted. “It’s not like we’re just floating around not really knowing what we’re doing and AJ has been very meticulous in an approach to setting up that new team.


“These conversations have been with Rob and AJ. AJ made it clear when he said he will be working with a new trainer. Will that be in conjunction with Rob? I think that’s to be announced in the coming weeks. With AJ he doesn’t stop thinking, he’s been on it non-stop and he’s been quite obsessed with the process.

“It is a huge risk to have a new trainer for a fight of this magnitude but if you feel like you need a change and you can’t go on in a specific way anymore, the alternative is much more risky.”

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