Should Anthony Joshua take Oleksandr Usyk fight next?
By Charles Brun: Anthony Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn met with Oleksandr Usyk’s promoter Alex Krassyuk in London in London on Thursday to presumably discuss plans for a fight. The IBF and WBO sanctioning bodies still have made a decision which of mandatory will be next for IBF/WBA/WBO heavyweight champion Joshua.
The obvious choice is for Joshua to vacate his IBF title and forget about fighting their mandatory Kubrat Pulev. There’s no interest from the boxing public in seeing Joshua (23-1, 21 KOs) defend against the 38-year-old Pulev. Fans don’t want to see Joshua fight Pulev, and they never did have interest.
Joshua and his promoter Hearn need to forget about trying to keep all the heavyweight titles, because it requires too much work and too many poor fights like Joshua-Pulev that won’t sell.
The options for Anthony Joshua:
VACATE WBO title and fight Pulev:
- Joshua will have an easy fight against IBF mandatory Pulev, who can’t punch, and who is old and slow. Pulev likely won’t last more than 2 or 3 rounds at best against Joshua, and that’s putting it kindly. If Joshua jumps on Pulev in the 1st round, he’ll likely obliterate him.
- Very few fans wants to see Joshua fight Pulev, and it won’t bring in a lot of buys on Sky Box Office. Likewise, the fight won’t attract subscribers to DAZN because Pulev isn’t a big name in the U.S. The hardcore boxing fans in the U.S know if Pulev from his knockout loss to Wladimir Klitschko in 2014. What they’ve seen of Pulev recently hasn’t impressive stuff in struggling to beat 38-year-old Rydell Booker.
VACATE IBF title and fight Usyk
- Joshua would be fighting a talented former unified cruiserweight champion and 2012 Olympic gold medalist in Usyk. This would be a much more compelling fight for the boxing world than Joshua vs. Pulev. That goes without saying. Usyk, 32, is younger than Pulev, and he’s never tasted defeat as a professional. DAZN would likely see more subscribers for this fight than Joshua-Pulev, and Sky Box Office would receive more buys.
- Usyk has no real experience at heavyweight other than his mismatch against 38-year-old Chazz Witherspoon last October. A lot of U.S and UK fans still haven’t seen Usyk fight before, because he’s not fought anyone popular during his career. All the cruiserweights that Usyk has fought have no name guys, as far as the casual fans go. British fans paid attention to Usyk’s fight with Tony Bellew, but there were still a lot of casual fans in the UK that didn’t bother watching. Bellew is an acquired taste, and he was nowhere near as popular as Joshua.
Joshua seems to have a hangup about his need to win all the heavyweight belts, as he thinks it’ll result in him getting more credit from the boxing world. It won’t. This is a different era. Maybe in the 70s people cared about a champion having all the belts, but things have changed.
People have busy lives, and they don’t bother to learn whether a fighter has one belt or four. When they see Joshua walks out into the ring, the average fan is focusing on him, and not how many belts his entourage is carrying during his ring walk.
What it all comes down to is whether Joshua wants to hamper his own career with his goal of unifying the heavyweight division. Sometimes goals can be toxic, and self-defeating. In this case, Joshua’s obsession with winning all the heavyweight titles will will stunt his career, and prevent him from focusing on giving fans the fights they want to see.
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