AJ prediction means Deontay Wilder fight is next as champ talks new deal
Unified heavyweight titlist Anthony Joshua has mandatory challenger Oleksandr Usyk on his mind, but he is also has a keen interest in the outcome of the third fight between lineal/WBC champion Tyson Fury and former titlist Deontay Wilder.
In Joshua’s perfect world, he’ll make a successful second defense of his second title reign by defeating Usyk on Saturday (DAZN in the U.S., Sky Box Office in the U.K.) in the main event of the first boxing event to take place at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, where a crowd of some 60,000 is expected.
Then Joshua will sit back and see what happens when Fury and Wilder meet again on Oct. 9 (ESPN/Fox PPV) in their delayed fight at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, hoping to meet the winner for the undisputed championship.
First, Joshua faces Ukraine’s Usyk, a 34-year-old southpaw, the former undisputed cruiserweight champion, and a fellow Olympic gold medalist. He will be the smaller but quicker and more technically proficient man compared to Joshua.
Usyk will be boxing as a heavyweight for only the second time since moving up in 2019. He stopped Chazz Witherspoon in his heavyweight debut in October 2019 and then edged Dereck Chisora in by unanimous decision this past October.
Despite such a thin resume at heavyweight, Joshua (24-1, 22 KOs) said he does not believe that Usyk (18-0, 13 KOs) is getting his title shot too soon.
“I wouldn’t say so,” Joshua told a few American reporters on a video conference on Wednesday. “When they talk about (former undisputed cruiserweight champion Evander) Holyfield, I think he had six warm-up fights (at heavyweight) before he fought Buster Douglas for the title, which is important because you can’t rush in this heavyweight division.
“But, then again, Holyfield was 25 when he came up to the heavyweight division, so he had a bit more time to develop. Usyk’s like 34, so he hasn’t got as much time to have six warm-up fights and get ready. They want it now. Let’s give Oleksandr Usyk credit because I wouldn’t want to be in the ring with me. I swear to God, I wouldn’t want to be in the ring with someone like me. I’m very competitive, and good luck to him Saturday.”
Joshua, the heavy favorite, will be in a prime position to fight for the undisputed title should he win. He was supposed to fight British countryman Fury for the undisputed championship in Saudi Arabia on Aug. 14. But that fight, which was agreed to, was put on hold when Wilder won an arbitration case he brought against Fury to enforce his contractual rights for a third fight with him following their second fight in February 2020. When Fury-Joshua went by the wayside, Joshua’s team finalized the fight with Usyk.
Joshua against the Tyson Fury-Deontay Wilder winner, especially if it’s Fury, looms as the biggest fight in boxing, and he wants the winner.
“We both have important fights in our career, both 50-50 fights as well, which is really good for boxing at the end of the day,” said of he and Fury. “I’ve got a rematch clause if the worse happens. I’m not too sure of Fury’s situation, so I lose I’m fighting Usyk again. The undisputed gets put on hold.
“If I win, I’ll fight either one of them. If Fury wins, I’ll fight Fury. But If Wilder wins, I’ll fight Wilder. If Fury wins and doesn’t take the fight with me because on his (stated) hit list — he said he wants to fight Dillian (Whyte) first or (Dereck) Chisora — then I’ll fight Wilder.
“Honestly, there’s no problem with challenging any fighter in the heavyweight division. It doesn’t always mean they have to have a belt either if they’re a good opponent and they’re going to give you a good challenge. Each fighter has to motivate you. They have to make you want to get better during training camp. So, either one of those guys is good. Both have been champions. Both good fighters, and I’ll fight any of them any time, win, lose or draw.”
TYSON FURY vs. DEONTAY WILDER
As for who Joshua is picking to prevail in Fury-Wilder III, he took his time but finally made a pick.
“If I had to, I don’t know. I’m not too bothered,” he said with a hearty laugh. “Look, because you’ve asked the question, let’s go with Wilder because he seems obsessed like he really wants it.
“He seems really focused on the task ahead, so, you know, a focused man is a dangerous man, and he’s focused. Wilder might get the decision. Actually, no. It has to be a knockout. One of them will knock the other out.”
Whatever fight comes for Joshua after Usyk, he will be promoted by Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing following the announcement this week that he signed what they termed a “career-long promotional deal.” The only promoter Joshua, 31, has ever had since turning pro in 2013 is Hearn.
When asked what “career-long” meant, as in if there is a length of time he wants to fight, he laughed.
“When I was signing it, I was thinking the same thing. Holyfield, we’re going to beat Holyfield,” Joshua said with another hearty laugh in reference to the recent exhibition in which a 58-year-old Holyfield got stopped in the first round of an exhibition against former UFC star Vitor Belfort. “When I was signing, I thought, bloody hell, what have I done?”
Joshua reasoned he could stick around for another five years or so, meaning at least a 13-year pro career, although he did not set anything in stone. But he said he wants to make sure he remains with Hearn.
“Eddie and me have a great business relationship. We have a great team with Matchroom Boxing,” he said. “Hands down, they’re the best, in my opinion.”
But Joshua knows that no matter who his promoter is, it’s the broadcast deals that facilitate the biggest events for pay-per-view or streaming.
“Now, with broadcasters, that’s where it gets sticky,” Joshua said. “I wouldn’t sign a five-year deal with a broadcaster.”
The fight with Usyk is the final bout on Joshua’s deal with Sky Sports, where he has been his entire career. Matchroom Boxing recently moved all of its boxing events from Sky to streaming service DAZN with the exception of Joshua, although he could be headed there after the Usyk fight. Or not.
“The good thing is — and we make it clear – I have a separate broadcast deal. (In) my deal with Eddie, the broadcasters aren’t involved with my deal with the promotional company, which was a blessing.
“When I first started, it had to be like that. If I was with Frank Warren, I’d have to be on BT. If I’m with Eddie, I have to be on Sky. But now we have to look at the marketplace. Matchroom has to do what’s best by me as their client, and 258 Management works in conjunction with Matchroom to make sure they deliver me the best deal. So it’s a quite an interesting place to be at.
“Matchroom, my promoter, is with DAZN, and I’m signed with Sky, so there might be a conflict. But maybe I might be my own boss and be like Floyd Mayweather, and Eddie might become like an Al Haymon to me. I’m not actually tied down and looking where I’m at broadcast-wise. After the (Usyk) fight we’ll look at all that.”
And if he does finally get a chance to fight Fury, Joshua was asked who would be the A-side, and he had a strong opinion.
“We had a 50-50 deal on the table to get it over the line, and I say that because that’s just showing you I want the fight,” he said of the deal that was got waylaid by Wilder’s arbitration win. “But I know when it comes to boxing in the U.K., for example, and maybe not America, but in Saudi Arabia and other countries, we do good business. And when it comes to title defenses, you look at my last ten opponents and his last ten opponents, all that stuff, come on, man. I have to be the A-side. There’s no question about it, but I’m not going to get into that. I would never let that hold up a fight at the end of the day.”
Joshua said even though he strongly believes he’s the A-side to Fury, who doesn’t have nearly Joshua’s popularity in the United Kingdom, there is enough money in that fight to agree to an even split.
“There’s enough prize money on the table for everyone to eat,” he said.
Then Joshua added with another big laugh, “As much as I want to take 90 percent of the pot, unfortunately, I can’t, and I’ve got to split it to get the fight. So be it.”