Joshua: ‘If I lose a belt I know I’ll get it back’
By Tim Royner: IBF/WBA/WBO heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua says he doesn’t want to give up one of his world titles due to boxing politics, but if he must, he’s not worried about it. Joshua (23-1, 21 KOs) feels it’ll be easy for him to win the title back straightaway. AJ’s
The IBF and WBO sanctioning bodies still have yet to decide which of their mandatory challengers will go first in 2020 for Joshua to defend against, and it’s looking like he’ll need to vacate one of the belts. IBF mandatory Kubrat Pulev (28-1, 14 KOs) is the likely opponent that Joshua will be defending against in the first half of 2020, and that’s not because he’s popular fighter.
These are the reasons why Joshua will face Pulev next:
- It’s an easy fight for Joshua. Pulev is old at 38, can’t punch, and is slow
- Giving up the IBF title would make it difficult for Joshua to win it back, because Pulev is with Top Rank. It won’t be as simple negotiating a unification fight against Pulev than it would for the WBO belt, which will wind up with Joseph Parker or Oleksandr Usyk holding it
- Relinquishing the WBO belt will set up a future unification match between Joshua and the Usyk vs. Parker winner
- Usyk has the talent to beat Joshua. As such, it’s safer for Joshua to vacate that belt, and defend against the older fighter Pulev
- More money for Joshua facing the Usyk-Parker winner in a unification fight
- Eddie Hearn can keep his Matchroom fighters Usyk and Parker happy. There’s a lot of pressure on Hearn to keep his big name fighters popular, and it’ll help him if Joshua vacates the WBO so that Usyk and Parker can fight for it.
With Joshua’s promoters at Matchroom Boxing having the top spots with the WBO occupied with #1 Oleksandr Usyk and #2 Joseph Parker, it’s easy to see which belt AJ will vacate. It’s utterly predictable that Joshua, 29, will vacate his WBO belt, and let fellow Matchroom fighters Usyk (17-0, 13 KOs) and Parker (26-2, 20 KOs) scrap for the strap.
It helps Matchroom and Jacobs if he relinquishes his World Boxing Organization title, because that sets up a mouthwatering fight between Parker and Usyk. The winner of that fight then faces Joshua in a unification, and it would likely wind up in Saudi Arabia.
Joshua confident he’ll win back his IBF or WBO titles if he’s forced to vacate
“I would hate it because it’s so hard to collect all these belts. To have to vacate because of the boxing politics would be annoying,” said Joshua to skysports.com. “If I do lose one, I know I’ll be able to get it back.”
Matchroom promoter Eddie Hearn is in an enviable position with him having top 3 heavyweights with the WBO under his promotional banner. The WBO belt will stay with Matchroom if Joshua vacates it, and it’ll be easy for AJ to negotiate a fight against the winner.