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Anthony Joshua ready for Oleksandr Usyk next

Aleksandr Usyk Anthony Joshua

By Tim Royner: Anthony Joshua confirmed last Saturday night that he’s ready to fulfill his WBO mandatory obligations by defending his newly won heavyweight title against mandatory Oleksander Usyk next. WBO president Paco Valcárcel posted a Tweet last night, saying that Joshua has 180 days to defend against Usyk.

Joshua beat Andy Ruiz Jr. last Saturday to recapture his IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight titles. Both the IBF and WBO mandatories are due at the same time. By Joshua saying he’s ready to face Usyk (17-0, 13 KOs) next, it means he’s made up his mind that he plans on keeping the WBO belt.

Unless the IBF is willing to let Joshua defend against his WBO mandatory first, that belt will fall vacant. In that case, IBF mandatory Kubrat Pulev would likely face Adam Kownacki for the vacant International Boxing Federation title.

Joshua ready to defend against Usyk

“In 180 days? Let’s rock and roll mate,” Joshua said last Saturday at the post-fight news conference after being asked if he’ll face Usyk next. “No problem”

Joshua (23-1, 21 KOs) will have problems with Usyk’s boxing ability if he continues to mimic former heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko with his fighting style. Against Ruiz, Joshua fought like a carbon copy Wladimir in moving, holding and smothering the American for 12 rounds. The performance by Joshua was like the second coming of Klitschko.

Even little things that Wladimir used to do, like holding his arms out in front of him, and ducking his head when clinching, Joshua used those tactics with perfection. In some ways, Joshua was like an improved version of Wladimir. Unfortunately for Joshua, Usyk is rumored to have given Wladimir huge problems during sparring. His style was all wrong for Wladimir’s, and he was said to have gotten the better of him.

“I think Usyk will outbox him,” said middleweight contender Sergiy Derevyanchenko to Fighthype, when asked how Usyk will do against Joshua.

Hearn expects Joshua to keep IBF & WBO titles

“There’s an IBF mandatory, there’s a WBO mandatory,” said Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn. “Kubrat Pulev is the IBF mandatory, Oleksandr Usyk is the WBO mandatory, and I see him wanting to take both of those fights as well. We’ll have to speak to the governing bodies, see who goes first, and then deal with that,” said Hearn.

We’ll see if the IBF will allow Joshua to retain his title with their organization should he choose to defend against WBO mandatory Usyk next. If the IBF wants the prestige of having a popular heavyweight like Joshua hold their belt, then they’ll permit him to make a defense against Usyk next. If not, then the belt will be stripped from him.

Ruiz Jr. wants Joshua to give him a trilogy fight

Andy made it clear at the post-fight news conference that he wants a third fight with Joshua, because he feels that he wasn’t at his best due to his conditioning. However, the trilogy will need to wait until Joshua finishes defending against his mandatory challengers Usyk and Pulev. Ruiz might luck out if Joshua lost his IBF title, because he would only have to defend against Usyk before facing him again. There’s a good chance that the IBF won’t force Joshua to decide on keeping their title or the WBO.

Usyk will face Chisora if he’s forced to wait for Joshua

Dereck Chisora and Usyk are already in negotiations for a fight, and that match could take place next if the IBF gets their way in having Joshua defend against mandatory challenger Pulev next. Chisora and Usyk were both at the Joshua-Ruiz fight last Saturday in Saudi, and were posed for photos together.


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