Anthony Joshua and Usyk criticized for hosting boxing match in Saudi Arabia

The highly anticipated rematch between Oleksandr Usyk and Anthony Joshua is confirmed to be happening in June of this year.

As a result of the Russian Invasion of Ukraine, the availability of Usyk was in question. But since then Usyk requested a special permission to leave Ukraine. His request was granted. According to Usyk’s team, Usyk has left the war torn country to prepare for the rematch.

With that being said, the only doubt left is the location where the fight will take place. Many countries have offered to host the highly anticipated rematch but it turns out Saudi Arabia is the front runner. Saudis offered a reported $90 Million to stage the fight. This would be great – if it weren’t for the fact Saudi Arabia is currently the aggressor in the war on Yemen and has taken such extreme measures that human rights advocates have been trying to raise awareness wherever they could. Of course, consider the US dollar is backed by oil the United States seem to not be concerned about the effort. For those wondering at home Saudis have waged war on Yemen for years now. reports:

“A Saudi-led coalition entered the war in March 2015 to try to restore Hadi’s government to power. But the war stretched into long bloody years, pushing Yemen to the brink of famine. More than 150,000 people have been killed in the warfare, according to the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project.”

Naturally the news that Usyk is about to give Saudi Arabia a PR push was not well received by human rights groups who criticized the decision due to Saudi Arabia’s terrible human rights record.

The reports last week suggested that the rematch will take place in London just like the first time. But Usyk’s promoter Alex Krassyuk has confirmed they are in “discussions” with Saudi Arabia.

While speaking with the BBC. Alex said:

“Saudi is the place we are in discussions with at the moment.”

“Late June is the date we are looking at. Nothing has been confirmed on paper. We are working on it. There are other options but we take it step by step.”

Joshua has already been under fire for competing in Saudi Arabia for his rematch against Andy Ruiz Jr in 2019. and he is facing the same criticism yet again.

Peter Frankental of Amnesty International, a non-governmental organization focused on human rights, told PA: “Saudi Arabia’s human rights record remains dire – with dissent severely punished, human rights defenders persecuted and jailed, and the Saudi-led military coalition in Yemen conducting a terrifying campaign of airstrikes which have repeatedly killed civilians.

“After the Saudi authorities shockingly executed 81 people in a single day earlier this month, it’s likely that Riyadh will see the glitz and raw hype of a Joshua-Usyk bout as a useful exercise in sportswashing that could help lessen any outrage over the executions.”

“If this fight goes ahead, we’d like Anthony Joshua and Oleksandr Usyk and their respective teams to approach it with a genuine preparedness to speak out about human rights issues in Saudi Arabia and challenge the pernicious effect of big-money sportswashing.”

We saw formula one return to Saudi Arabia earlier this year. Formula One CEO Stefano Domenicali defended the decision by saying that the country is ”moving in the right direction”.

The winner of this superbout is very likely to face the winner of another superbout between Tyson Fury and Dillian Whyte. Even though Fury has declared this will be his last fight. You never say never in this sport.