Anthony Joshua’s heavyweight title rematch with Ukraine’s Oleksandr Usyk in Jeddah next month could end up at the Sky Sports box office with the broadcaster locked in a high-stakes bidding contest with DAZN.
Despite the former world heavyweight champion signing a long-term deal with DAZN to follow promoter Eddie Hearn and leave his previous home Sky after nine years, Telegraph Sport understands the bidding process has reached more than £20m with the two going head to head. -Go for the right to broadcast the title fight on pay-per-view.
With the Saudi government-backed organization holding the global television rights to the contest (the Saudis paid £98m to host the contest in the Middle East), the winner of the TV rights battle will be announced imminently, with the Jeddah venue also confirmed in the coming days. The BBC is also understood to be involved in the bidding process, but has not come up with a bid close to the two favourites.
Joshua’s deal with DAZN was announced in mid-June, understood to be a five-year, 10-fight deal that could net the British fighter $100m a year, but if Sky claimed the broadcast rights it would be a huge blow. for network television he gave Joshua’s high-profile departure. The nondisclosure of the TV deal was the elephant in the room when Usyk and Joshua were in London last week to promote their fight, the biggest fight of Joshua’s 27-fight career.
Joshua lost three heavyweight belts to Usyk on points last September in London. Talks are already underway for the winner to face Fury this winter or early 2023. Joshua could still fight Fury even if he loses to Usyk again because an all-British fight would be a huge box office opportunity, and still be a “no-brainer,” according to Fury promoter Frank Warren.
For rival promoter Hearn, instrumental in persuading Joshua to switch his allegiance to digital sports streaming platform DAZN, with whom the promoter has an exclusive deal, DAZN winning the bidding war could be a key moment in his career. However, sources have told Telegraph Sport that Sky mounted an aggressive campaign to secure the rights, with the whopping £20million based on Joshua’s selling power in the UK market, as the second biggest star. of pay-per-view of the sport in the world-wide one to the Mexican boxer Saúl Canelo Álvarez. Hearn also has a promotional deal with Alvarez.
Usyk and Joshua will earn around £50m each from global earnings
Regardless of the TV rights, Usyk and Joshua are set to earn around £50m each from the global earnings contest. The 35-year-old Usyk, now regarded as one of the top four pound-for-pound fighters in the sport, heads into the sequel as the favorite to retain the titles.
Elsewhere, Telegraph Sport may also reveal that Hearn is close to closing a deal for one of his Matchroom Boxing stars, Conor Benn, to face off in a blockbuster fight with Chris Eubank Jr, who has switched his allegiance from Sky Sports to DAZN. for a fight. which will evoke memories of his parents, Chris Eubank Snr and Nigel Benn, facing off in two of the most memorable fights in one of British boxing’s greatest rivalries in 1990 and 1993, in world title fights at middleweight and super middleweight, respectively. .
It is understood that the contest will be in agreed weight, still to be agreed. Benn, 25, an undefeated welterweight at the top of the world rankings in his weight division, will move up in weight to fight Eubank, 32, who has campaigned at middleweight and super middleweight in a resume of 34 contests. , with two losses to Billy Joe Saunders. and George Groves.