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Should Anthony Joshua vacate his titles if he must fight Oleksandr Usyk next?

Alexander Usyk Anthony Joshua Tyson Fury

By Abu Mahmood: Eddie Hearn has made one thing clear: If Oleksandr Usyk (18-0-0 13 KOs) enforces his mandatory position with the WBO and demands to face Anthony Joshua (24-1-0 22 KOs) next, then Anthony Joshua will vacate all his belts.

This seems like a very big decision to make and one can only think that Joshua is on board with this. Hearn has shocked many by saying this but his reasons may be understandable.

Hearn would simply want Joshua to face Fury twice in 2021 as it is a big fight and the winner would be the undisputed champion.

Hearn, it seems does not want to deal with the business of mandatories anymore which makes sense and wants to get on with what would be one of the biggest fights of all time.

Unfortunately for him, Oleksandr Usyk wants his title shot and rightfully so.

Alexander Usyk Anthony Joshua Tyson Fury

So, should Anthony Joshua vacate his IBO, IBF, WBO and WBA titles?

Anthony Joshua holds 4 belts. To vacate each one of them just to avoid a mandatory fight with Oleksandr Usyk seems a bit too far-fetched. Sure, Joshua can fight for them again (although it is doubtful if he would chase the IBO title) but then the Fury fight would not seem as popular as what it would be if for the undisputed title.

Joshua vs Usyk is not a very big fight, especially not when compared to Fury vs Joshua. So, it is fathomable why Hearn would rather his fighter vacate.

Oleksandr Usyk has been waiting patiently for his title shot and is starting to get annoyed by having his mandatory title shot pushed back. Usyk believes he can beat Joshua and wants to fight him as soon as is possible.

So why does not Joshua fight Usyk and get it over with. There are two reasons:

  • A fight against Fury would be for the undisputed championship which would enhance either man’s legacy
  • There is more money to be made from a Fury fight

Alexander Usyk Anthony Joshua Tyson Fury

Still, vacating four world titles seems too much. The WBC have given the go ahead for the Fury fight, so if Joshua really wants to avoid this mandatory, he should appeal to the WBO and get a straight answer. Although, it is starting to seem like he will have to fight Usyk.

If Hearn wants Joshua to vacate then why not vacate only the WBO title and then try to reclaim it later. The WBA, IBF and IBO have not issued any mandatories for Joshua (Although it seems doubtful Joshua would care about an IBO mandatory).

Fury may have to face Deontay Wilder (42-1-0 41 KOs) in a 3rd fight and could be occupied there.

Joshua could have all 3 fights this year even if Fury is to fight Wilder a 3rd time.

  • Joshua vs Usyk in March
  • Joshua vs Fury in August
  • Joshua vs Fury 2 in December

Alexander Usyk Anthony Joshua Tyson Fury

That probably might be asking for too much though. Of course, Wilder could beat Fury in a 3rd fight so there are a lot of risks here for both fighters but Joshua should not vacate his belts.

Anthony Joshua should not vacate his belts to avoid a mandatory fight as it takes away some of the hype for a fight with Fury.


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