ANTHONY JOSHUA looks set to stay busy while he waits for a rematch with Oleksandr Usyk, who is defending his country from Russian invaders.
A boxing promoter has presented Anthony Joshua with an “intriguing” choice of opponent for a bout while he waits for a rematch with Oleksandr Usyk. AJ is set to get the chance to win his belts back from the Ukrainian, but a rematch looks likely to be delayed while the champion defends his country.
Usyk flew back to Ukraine to defend the capital Kyiv from Russian forces, who launched a full-scale invasion of the country on February 24.
He joined other Ukrainian boxers in taking up arms, including Vasiliy Lomachenko and retired brothers Vitaly and Wladimir Klitschko.
It is uncertain for how long the fighting will last and Usyk will be defending his country, putting the expected date for a rematch in May or June in serious doubt.
At the moment, it is unclear what a lengthy period of inactivity would mean for Usyk, considering the extreme circumstances behind his stepping away from boxing.
As for Joshua, it is likely he will look elsewhere for fights while he waits for the chance to win back the belts he lost last September.
Promoter Dmitry Salita has weighed in on the situation, and suggested that his client Otto Wallin might be an ideal opponent for the Briton.
The Swedish heavyweight has an impressive record of 23-1, with that single defeat coming at the hands of Tyson Fury in 2019.
Wallin was also set to face another Briton in Dillian Whyte last October, until a shoulder injury forced Whyte to pull out of the bout.
Instead, he fought against Kamil Sokolowski in Cardiff in February to win for the first time in the UK.
“Otto is a Southpaw like Usyk,” he said. “Numbers don’t lie and according to the stats he landed more punches than anyone against Fury, including (Fury’s first against) Wilder and (Wladimir) Klitschko put together.
“I believe Otto has all the skills, confidence – and with the last fight – the experience of fighting on UK soil to beat Joshua.
“If the fight with Usyk does not happen, Wallin vs Joshua is the most intriguing fight in the heavyweight division.
“And obviously the cancellation of the Whyte fight with Otto made him that much more hungry for the spot at the top of the heavyweight division.”
After that bout with Wallin was called off, Whyte was named mandatory challenger to the WBC belt currently held by Fury.
The two Britons are set to do battle at Wembley on April 23, with Fury still keen on an undisputed fight with either Joshua or Usyk if he retains his titles.
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Tyson Fury’s promoter Frank Warren has promised to ensure fans’ yearning for a unification bout with Anthony Joshua happens this year telling the BBC that “we will make it happen” in response to fans’ wishes.
All heavyweight titles now reside in Britain for the first time in history after Fury, 31, stunned Deontay Wilder, 34, on Sunday to claim the WBC title.
Joshua, whose last fight was in Saudi Arabia, holds the WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO belts.
Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn had earlier stated his wish to make the fight happen in the aftermath of Fury’s stunning 7th round stoppage of Wilder and reiterated his stance on Monday.
“Of course we want to see the fight,” Warren told BBC Sport. “We’ve been trying to make it for two years.”
“Hearn kept saying was it’s got to be 70/30 [the purse] in favour of AJ and so on and so fourth.
“The tables have turned now. I have no problem with 50/50. I think Tyson would deserve more but 50/50, no problem.
“This is about the boxers and more importantly the fans. If they want to see the fight we will make it happen.
“In the meantime, Eddie Hearn is acting like the guy standing outside your house with his nose pressed up against the window and keeps spouting off about Tyson.”
Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn speaking to Sky Sports on Monday said he would do everything possible to agree a deal, and both sides would be “clowns” and “idiots” if the fight which could be the biggest in the history of the sport failed to hold.
“Everybody is very clear on this. Everybody wants this fight — Anthony Joshua, Tyson Fury, MTK, Top Rank, Frank Warren, Matchroom,” said Hearn, referring to those involved on both sides.
“There are some hurdles to overcome on the broadcasting, but nothing too much.
“I promise you this fight will happen.”
Any prospects of a fight between the British heavyweights hinges on the fact Wilder has the option of a rematch with Fury and has 30 days to invoke a clause in his contract.
Hearn says if that happens then Joshua, 30, will face Kubrat Pulev in a mandatory IBF bout, with the promoter in talks to hold the fight at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on 20 June.
Tyson Fury admits he was ‘wounded’ by Anthony Joshua’s loss to Oleksandr Usyk with £200m super-fight in doubt
Tyson Fury was left “absolutely wounded” by Anthony Joshua’s defeat to Oleksandr Usyk.
Joshua relinquished his heavyweight belts following a unanimous points decision at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, leaving the prospect of his £200million super-fight against Fury in major doubt.
Fury, who fights Deontay Wilder next week, said: “Did I watch the fight? Yes, I did. Was I absolutely wounded that he won? Yes, I was. I was hoping Joshua could win the fight but he couldn’t.”
Joshua is set for a rematch against the new champion in February or March time, with the UK the preferred location for the fight. Victory would inevitably pave the way for the Fury double header.
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But Fury said: “The only thing I’m bothered about is beating Deontay Wilder and that’s the most dangerous heavyweight out there. In my opinion, Wilder beats Joshua, Usyk, all the rest of the division, comfortable but he cannot beat me.”
Of Joshua’s chances of beating Usyk, Fury said: “My advice to Joshua in the rematch is get stuck in the best way he knows how, put his best foot forward and swing away, Jack, swing away.
“But I don’t care about anybody else – they are not on my radar only the Bronze Bomber aka the big dosser. After him, we will talk, the promoters will do their job, and I will always do mine. When I beat Wilder, I’ll be on to the next one.”
DID ANTHONY JOSHUA JUST ADMIT TYSON FURY IS THE BEST HEAVYWEIGHT AROUND?
Firstly, the current four-belt world heavyweight champion has some tale to tell about goings-on over the past eighteen months of his career.
From discussions to fight Deontay Wilder for all the top division marbles to an opponent falling out due to failed drug tests for three separate substances. To a shock defeat, a redemption victory, and a subsequent deal to face Tyson Fury – again for every strap on offer – it’s never a dull moment for the Briton.
But reflecting on his recent spell, coupled with a look back to how far he’s come, Joshua is philosophical about his future.
AJ says he’s in a position far exceeding where he thought he would be at 30 years old.
Winning the 2012 Olympics just a few years after taking up the sport, Joshua still believes he’s way ahead of the game.
On how a loss to Andy Ruiz Jr. in New York, the first of his career had affected him, Joshua surprisingly holds no regrets.
“There were certain things I was talking about perhaps two years ahead of that loss, and the defeat just showcased them,” Joshua told GQ Middle East.
“I know people say crazy things like, ‘Oh, we were planning on that loss,’ but it really was a blessing in disguise.
Andy Ruiz Anthony JoshuaEd Mulholland
“It highlighted everything I had been concerned about. After that it was simple: these are the changes I’ve been talking about, now you need to listen.”
Needing to listen was maybe advice he could have given himself before the Ruiz implosion, Joshua is quite content with how his path has panned out.
ANTHONY JOSHUA & TYSON FURY
The Londoner even says being considered alongside the likes of his rival and two-time lineal champion Fury, means he’s ahead of himself at the moment.
“I changed everything after that first fight,” says Joshua. “Losing to Andy made me rethink and restructure. I took the positives out of it, but it wasn’t easy.
“My training camp was six weeks of pure hell. I had new team members. I had injuries I was trying to overcome. There were so many different issues.
“But we got there in the end through will, determination, and intelligence.
“Being world champion, with all those knockouts, you do feel kind of unstoppable. But realistically, in boxing terms, I’m way ahead of where I should be.
“I’m working at such a quick pace. I shouldn’t even be in a position where I’m mentioned in Tyson Fury’s era. He’s five or six years ahead of me in terms of turning professional.
“In fact, when he was turning pro, I was just putting on my gloves for the first time.”
With Kubrat Pulev, a mandatory challenge from the IBF in his future, Joshua is simply waiting for the date to step up preparations.
The heavyweight clash has already been delayed from June due to the ongoing pandemic.
“I’m OK with (waiting), to be honest,” he says. “It’s saved me weeks of getting punched in the head. That can never be a bad thing.”
Tyson Fury sets out training rules after offering to coach rival Anthony Joshua
Tyson Fury has told Anthony Joshua he will need to adopt his old school training methods if he is to accept his rival’s coaching offer.
Fury, who defends his WBC heavyweight title against Dillian Whyte on Saturday night, has offered to coach Joshua for his planned rematch against Oleksandr Usyk this summer. Joshua lost his belts when he was outpointed by Usyk last September
For the first time in his professional career, Joshua will change his trainer for a rematch with Usyk. ‘AJ’ has partnered with Angel Fernandez after parting ways with Rob McCracken, who received criticism for Joshua’s approach in his first bout with Usyk.
Fury has now vowed Joshua will have to ditch modern training methods if he wants to partner with him for his next bout. “I’m willing to train him, but he’s got to be willing to learn,” Fury said. “In my world, numbers on a screen on a heart rate monitor are not welcome.
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“You train hard, you put your life and soul into something and you fight until the end. You don’t quit when you get knocked down, you don’t look out of the ring like you don’t want to fight on, you go and throw the kitchen sink when you’re behind in a world title fight.
“You don’t cruise to a points loss because in my world, getting knocked out in round one is better than losing on points and not trying to win.”
Since teaming up with coach SugarHill Steward for his rematch with Deontay Wilder in 2020, Fury’s style has drastically changed as he focuses on knockouts rather than out-boxing his opponents.
Tyson Fury said he would coach Anthony Joshua alongside SugarHill Steward
Tyson Fury said he would coach Anthony Joshua alongside SugarHill Steward ( Image: Top Rank via Getty Images)
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His approach for his fight with Whyte is much the same, as Fury has vowed to knockout his former training partner in what could be the final fight of his career.
Fury thinks that if Joshua could adapt a similar approach to his game, he would “definitely” be able to beat Usyk and become one of the few three-time heavyweight champions in boxing history. “I know that if I trained Joshua – me and SugarHill Steward – he’d definitely beat Oleksandr Usyk,” Fury told BT Sport.
“That’s a fact and I would be open to doing it. I’d be very open to me and SugarHill training him. I’d do it for free, because I don’t need the money. I wouldn’t take his money anyway, we would take on that challenge no problem.”
Poll: Will Tyson Fury vs Anthony Joshua actually happen in 2021?
We’ve heard all the talk, all the predictions for who will win when the magical fight happens, but here’s a question: will it actually happen?
Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua have agreed to terms in principle on a two-fight deal that would start in 2021. As of now, it the fight would crown a true, bona fide, undisputed heavyweight champion, the first since Lennox Lewis beat Evander Holyfield in 1999, and the first in the era of four belts recognized as legitimate world titles.
But there’s a lot of ground to cover between now and then, too.
Fury (30-0-1, 21 KO) still has to meet Deontay Wilder in a third fight. Though Fury dominated Wilder in their February rematch, Tyson himself will tell you that he cannot take Wilder (42-1-1, 41 KO) lightly, as no matter what else anyone thinks, Deontay has dynamite in his hands and can knock anyone out if he lands the clean shot.
He may also have to deal with a potential WBC mandatory title defense against Dillian Whyte, but honestly, I’d bet against it; the WBC have been incredibly reluctant to actually give Whyte the fight he’s thought he’s been owed. But it’s not impossible, at least.
Joshua (23-1, 21 KO) has an IBF mandatory against Kubrat Pulev due, and while the IBF aren’t pushing the issue, them not setting a deadline doesn’t mean they’re going to wait forever, or that they can. Pulev would certainly look to push the issue. There’s also the WBO mandatory, which is Oleksandr Usyk, who does not intend to step aside.
While promoter Eddie Hearn is right that getting the financial details sorted is probably the biggest step of all, there’s also just the chance that whatever deal is currently agreed to will fall apart for whatever reason. It would not be the first or 500th time that has happened for a big fight.
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