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Oleksandr Usyk vs Anthony Joshua rematch: Saudi Arabia 'under discussion' as location, says Ukrainian's promoter

Oleksandr Usyk's promoter Alexander Krassyuk: "[Saudi Arabia] is under discussion at the moment. Late June is also the timing we are considering now. Many things will depend on how fast we manage to ink the papers."

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Oleksandr Usyk says he's preparing to fight Anthony Joshua again this summer

Saudi Arabia is one of the locations 'under discussion' for Oleksandr Usyk's rematch with Anthony Joshua.

Unified world champion Usyk has confirmed he will start preparations for a second fight against Joshua, with the Ukrainian's promoter Alexander Krassyuk targeting a date in June.

Joshua could now be heading back to Saudi Arabia after regaining his WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight belts in a rematch with Andy Ruiz Jr in Diriyah in December 2019.

Anthony Joshua, Oleksandr Usyk
Image: Anthony Joshua's rematch with Oleksandr Usyk could be staged in Saudi Arabia this summer

"This location is under discussion at the moment," Krassyuk told Sky Sports. "Late June is also the timing we are considering now.

"Many things will depend on how fast we manage to ink the papers. The good thing is that Usyk is already in Europe to start his preparation."

Usyk defeated Joshua by unanimous decision to become a two-weight world champion at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium last September.

The 35-year-old had returned to his home nation to help defend against the Russian invasion, but revealed last week that he intended to press ahead with the planned Joshua rematch.

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"That's how I will help my country more and it's better than being in territorial defence and running around Kyiv with a machine gun," said Usyk in a message on social media.

"Dear friends, many of my friends and close ones called me and supported me in this. Haters, I wish you well and wish you happiness, joy and peace. Everything will be with God's blessing. Everything will be Ukraine. Wishing everyone well."

Amnesty International: Saudi should not host the fight

Amnesty International has hit out at the possibility of Saudi Arabia staging the rematch between Usyk and Joshua.

Peter Frankental, Amnesty International UK's Economic Affairs Director, told the PA news agency: "If these early discussions result in yet another high-profile fight in Saudi Arabia then it will prove once again that Saudi Arabia's enormous appetite for sportswashing is nowhere near sated yet."

Formula One went back to Jeddah last weekend following the Gulf Kingdom's debut appearance in the sport in December but Lewis Hamilton admitted to feeling uncomfortable given the human rights issues there.

Last Friday, human rights group Reprieve said a further 16 people have been killed since the mass execution on March 12 of 81 men, more than half of whom had taken part in pro-democracy protests, according to the United Nations High
Commissioner for Human Rights.

A Saudi-led coalition's military conflict in neighbouring Yemen and the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October 2018 in the Saudi Arabian consulate in Turkey have also been strongly condemned.

Frankental added: "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."

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