Anthony Joshua might not vacate WBO title to swerve Oleksandr Usyk

By Kenneth Friedman: Anthony Joshua could spoil the positioning done by contenders Daniel Dubois and Joseph Parker by choosing to defend his WBO heavyweight title against his mandatory Oleksandr Usyk in early 2021.

Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn gave a hint this week that Joshua values his title, which means he might not vacate the WBO belt like many fans are predicting.

If Joshua chooses to keep his WBO title, he can easily face Usyk in early 2021 and then take on Fury in the summer in June or July.

The second fight with Fury could occur in December, and it shouldn’t be a problem for Joshua to get three fights during the year.

Dubois’ promoter Frank Warren said on Monday that they’re interested in facing #1 Usyk (18-0, 13 KOs) for the WBO title if Joshua (23-1, 21 KOs) elects to vacate the belt.

Image: Anthony Joshua might not vacate WBO title to swerve Oleksandr Usyk

Joshua, 30, has made it known that he wants to face WBC champion Tyson Fury in a unification match in the first half of 2021.

But if Joshua goes straight into the match against Fury, he’ll have to sacrifice his WBO title unless he chooses to deal with mandatory Usyk first in February or March.

“The belts are important to Joshua,” said Hearn to Sky Sports.

It makes perfect sense for Joshua to defend the WBO his belt against Usyk in early 2021, as it’s a fight that would potentially be an easy one for him. Usyk, 33, looked small and less than powerful in struggling to beat fringe contender Dereck Chisora last weekend.

What the fight showed was that Usyk doesn’t possess the size, power, or the silliness to get in the trenches and fight against big heavyweights.

For Usyk to have any chance at all of beating the 6’6″ Joshua, he would need to stand and fight him, which would be highly risky.

Joshua’s reach and power jab would take away Usyk’s long game, and he would be forced to get close to Joshua to land shots. It could end badly for Usyk if he tries to do that because of the kind of shots he’s going to be getting hit with by AJ.

Should Joshua vacate his WBO belt, #3 Joseph Parker (27-2, 21 KOs) wants to be the one that faces #1 Usyk for the vacant World Boxing organization title. However, Parker will need the WBO to position him ahead of #2 Daniel Dubois for that to happen.

Image: Anthony Joshua might not vacate WBO title to swerve Oleksandr Usyk

Until recently, Parker had been ranked #2 with the WBO, but they moved him from that spot to #3 and elevated Dubois.

Parker is taking on unbeaten #6 WBO Junior Fa (19-0, 10 KOs) next month on December 12th at the Spark Arena in Auckland, New Zealand.

If Parker wins that fight, his manager David Higgins hopes that he’s moved back to #2 with the WBO ahead of Dubois. That will then lead to a fight between Usyk and Parker if Joshua chooses to vacate the WBO belt like many people think he’ll do

“One hundred percent, we’d take the fight [with Usyk for WBO belt],” Parker’s manager Higgins said to Sky Sports. “We would take the fight [with Usyk].

“It all depends on that mandatory, and whether Joshua vacates or not.¬†

“Joseph believes Usyk to be a class act. He is really slick, but it’s just whether he has the power at heavyweight. He’s certainly got the skills.”

Higgins is also interested in matching Parker against Dereck Chisora in 2021 if the fight makes business sense.

“If it was Chisora and it made economic sense, then why not?” said Higgins.