Joshua: I’ll challenge Fury and Wilder, they’re not the biggest names I’ve fought
By Charles Brun: Anthony Joshua is ready to take on the winner of the Tyson Fury vs. Deontay Wilder trilogy match in 2021, and he feels he’ll beat both of them.
If Joshua had it his way, he would fight the winner of the Fury-Wilder 3 right away in early 2021, but he probably won’t be able to do that because of his WBO mandatory that is due against Oleksandr Usyk.
If Joshua makes up his mind that he doesn’t need the WBO title in his possession for the Fury or Joshua fight next year, then there’s nothing blocking that fight.
Joshua seems to be stuck on the idea of becoming the undisputed champion in 2021. If Joshua can give up on that idea temporarily, then the boxing world can see the fight they’ve been longing for all these years.
Joshua ready for Fury and Wilder
“Fury has been professional much longer than me. He should be looking to retire soon,” said Joshua to Sky Sports. “If he wants to cement his legacy, I’m here and ready.
“I’ll challenge Fury, I’ll challenge Wilder,” said Joshua. “These guys aren’t the most prominent names that I’ve fought on my record anyway. They are just another heavyweight.
“Look at my record. They [Fury and Wider] are not the best fighters that I have challenged.
“When they are ready, I’m here to fight.”
It almost looks like Joshua s trying to bolster his shaky self-confidence by discrediting Fury and Wilder. If that’s the case, it’s a weak way for AJ to give himself a boost of confidence.
It’s undoubtedly true that Fury and Wilder aren’t as big a names as Wladimir Klitschko, who Joshua stopped in the 11th round in 2017. However, there aren’t any other names on Joshua’s resume that are bigger than Deontay and Fury.
Other than Klitschko, the best names on AJ’s resume is Dillian Whyte, Joseph Parker, and Alexander Povetkin. Those guys aren’t more popular than Fury and Wilder, and they’ve not accomplished the same things.
Parker and Povetkin were briefly world champions, and Whyte has failed repeatedly to get to the level.
AJ proud at winning the title faster than Fury
Joshua isn’t impressed with the time that it took Fury to capture his first world title as a pro. Fury, who turned professional in 2008, didn’t win his first until his seventh year when he defeated IBF/WBA/WBO heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko in 2015.
In contrast, Joshua (23-1, 21 KOs) captured his first world title in 2016 in his third year as a pro in stopping IBF champion Charles Martin in the second round.
Joshua feels that the speed with which he won his first world title compared to Fury says something about him. Of course, it also helps that Joshua won an Olympic gold medal in 2012 and that his promoters at Matchroom were able to offer Martin enough money to lure him over to the UK to fight him.
Martin was viewed as an easy mark n the eyes of many boxing fans, and Joshua had the perfect guy to win a title against at the time. He wasn’t a solid champion like Wladimir had been. In other words, Martin was a paper champion, and Joshua was an opportunist in taking advantage of the badly flawed belt-holder.
When Fury came up in 2008, he didn’t have a paper champion like Charles Martin to win a manageable title against during this time. Wladimir Klitschko was still in his prime at the time, and it would have been a mistake for the ‘Gypsy King’ to fight him at that time.
We saw what 40-year-old Wladimir, coming off of a year and a half layoff, almost did to Joshua in 2017. Wladimir had Joshua within an eyelash of being knocked out, and he likely would have stopped him if he’d pushed hard after decking AJ in the 6th.
AJ can’t overlook Pulev or Usyk
“He’s on a completely different journey. I want to steam through. If Fury is serious, I’ll take that fight seriously too,” said Joshua.
Unless Joshua wants to start vacating titles, he needs to concern himself more with the task at hand in dealing with his IBF mandatory Pulev (28-1, 14 KOs), considering that he could be a real banana skin for him on December 12th. Pulev can punch a little, and he’s got a jab like a power-punch.
We’ve already seen that it doesn’t take much to get Joshua staggering around the ring like a drunk on Saturday night. If guys like Andy Ruiz Jr and Carlos Takam were able to hurt AJ, then Pulev is quite capable of doing the same thing.
What boxing and Hearn don’t need is for Joshua to be caught looking past another opponent again.
Unfortunately, Joshua still has two mandatory challengers that stand in his path before he can get to the Fury-Wilder 3 winner.
Joshua, 30, needs to defeat IBF mandatory Kubrat Pulev (28-1, 14 KOs) on December 12th, and then possibly his WBO mandatory Oleksander Usyk in the first part of 2021.
Usyk’s co-promoter Alexander Krassyuk says they expect Joshua to face Oleksandr after he defends against Pulev. Unless Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn can find a way for him to wiggle out of his commitment to Usyk, he’s going to need to face him BEFORE he takes on the Fury-Wilder III winner.
Will Joshua vacate to avoid Usyk?
It could mean that Joshua vacates his WBO title so that he can swerve the Usyk threat, or Hearn could give the Ukrainian fighter a massive step aside fee to get him out of the way. Either of those things is possible. That said, it won’t look good for Joshua to vacate his WBO title to avoid Usyk.
With Joshua’s old school dream of unifying all the titles at heavyweight, he’ll like the anti-Lennox Lewis if he vacates to avoid a risky opponent.
Fury’s situation is a little easier. He needs to defeat former WBC heavyweight champion Wilder (42-1-1, 41 KOs) to get to Joshua, and we don’t know what the status is with ‘The Bronze Bomber.’
He’s coming off of bicep surgery and a crushing 7th round knockout loss to Fury last February. Will Deontay even take the third contest with ‘The Gypsy King’ in December? We don’t know.
All we know is Wilder is running out of time, and it’s starting to look like he won’t take the fight. But even if Wilder does face Fury, he won’t stand much of a chance unless his biceps problem has healed, and he’s 100% for the fight.
Oddly, we haven’t seen any training footage of Wilder leaked to the public. Does that mean Wilder isn’t training at all?
Given how much money is on the line for the two Joshua vs. Fury fights in 2021, they’re both better off vacating their titles to fight without the straps. There’s too much money that’ll be lost if one or both lose.
Tyson can’t avoid Wilder
Fury’s situation is more complicated, though, as he’s under contract for the trilogy match against Deontay. It’s unclear whether Fury could get out of the third fight with Wilder even if he vacated his WBC.
Whatever the case, Fury has less of a chance of losing to Wilder than Joshua does in getting beaten by Pulev and Usyk. There’s no shame in vacating titles if it’s for the good of the sport.
Joshua is so popular that he’ll be able to quickly arrange fights with Usyk and Pulev at a later date to reclaim his IBF and WBO titles if he vacates them both now. Those guys aren’t going to say ‘no’ to a fight offer by Joshua if they’re the ones with the belts.
It’s too bad that Joshua has his head wrapped up around winning all the titles, believing that it’ll impress boxing fans. It won’t. Fans are beyond being impressed by titles nowadays, mainly because of all the bad press the sanctioning bodies have received over the years.
The governing bodies have watered down the divisions with all their titles, and it’s confused with the fans.
They don’t know who the real champions are anymore. On top of that, it’s no longer prestigious to be called a world champion nowadays. When even lesser fighters are holding titles, it weakens the credibility of a fighter to hold a title.
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