Joshua to return to Saudi Arabia for Usyk rematch

The Jeddah Super Dome in Saudi Arabia will host Anthony Joshua’s rematch against Oleksandr Usyk on August 20.

Usyk will put his IBF, WBA, WBO and IBO world titles on the line against Joshua, less than a year after the Ukrainian defeated the Englishman at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Usyk has put the rematch on hold to support Ukraine on the front line following the country’s invasion by Ukraine. The rematch has been billed the ‘Rage on the Red Sea’.

The Jeddah Super Dome has a capacity of 35,000 and August’s event will mark Joshua’s second fight in Saudi Arabia. Joshua defeated Andy Ruiz Jr. at a 12,000-seat open-air stadium in Diriyah back in 2019.

At the time, Amnesty International said that Joshua should be prepared to speak out on Saudi Arabia’s human rights record. Amnesty UK’s head of campaigns Felix Jakens said the 2019 fight would serve as another opportunity for the country to ‘sportswash’ its image.

Following the announcement that Joshua will return to Saudi Arabia, Amnesty International said it was “no surprise” to see another major event taking place in the country. Saudi Arabia hosted its first Formula 1 grand prix in March in what marked the biggest ever sporting event to take place in the country.

“As we said with golfers in the LIV series and with the sale of Newcastle United, we’d like to see high-profile sporting figures speaking out about human rights to break the malign spell of Saudi sportswashing.” Peter Frankel, Amnesty UK’s economics affairs director, said, according to the Guardian.

Eddie Hearn, chairman of promoter Matchroom Sport, added: “It was a huge success to host Anthony Joshua’s contest with Andy Ruiz Jr. in The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 2019 and we are looking forward to working with the country again to stage this historic event. So, no doubt all eyes of the world will be on the ring come Saturday August 20. This is a story of redemption, and the countdown starts now.”

Image: Prateek Katyal on Unsplash