Oleksandr Usyk to face Joshua after war exemption

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Oleksandr Usyk to face Joshua after war exemption

Oleksandr Usyk vs Anthony Joshua rematch is close to being finalized after the Ukrainian was granted special exemption from the country’s ongoing war against Russia.

The unified champion had joined a territorial defense battalion in Kiev last month to protect his homeland after Russia invaded Ukraine.

Under the martial law which Ukraine has instituted, all men fit to serve from 18-60 years of age are banned from leaving the country. Usyk, however, does not need permission to leave Ukraine because of an exception in the law for parents of three or more children under the age of 18.

Eddie Hearn had earlier planned to wait as long as Usyk needed and was considering an interim fight for Joshua (24-2, 22 KOs) in the meantime. Now, plans are underway to secure a date and location for the rematch with Usyk.

The upcoming Oleksandr Usyk vs Anthony Joshua bout will be the second time these men have shared a boxing ring.

Usyk (19-0, 13 KOs) soundly defeated Joshua via unanimous decision when the pair met in September to capture the WBA, WBO, IBF and IBO belts before Joshua exercised his contractual right to a rematch with financial terms already agreed upon.

Those plans were cast into doubt after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as Usyk returned home to defend his country. He was joined by fellow boxer and close friend Vasyl Lomachenko who put his own career on hold for his country as well.

Usyk is currently ranked No. 2 heavyweight and No. 4 pound-for-pound boxer by ESPN. The Olympic gold medalist won three heavyweight belts in just his third fight in the division after unifying the cruiser-weight division.

After the lopsided nature of the first meeting with Joshua, Usyk will be installed as a heavy favorite to retain his belts and possibly meet the winner of the April 23 fight between Tyson Fury and Dillian Whyte later this year with a chance to unify the heavyweight division as well.

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