Anthony Joshua ordered to fight Oleksandr Usyk by WBO
By William Lloyd: Just moments ago, Anthony Joshua was ordered by the WBO to defend his World Boxing Organization heavyweight title against mandatory challenger Oleksander Usyk. Joshua (24-1, 22 KOs) and Usyk (18-0, 13 KOs) have 10 days to make a deal to avert a purse bid to May 31st.
Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing, had asked the WBO for an extension until May 24th before the fight with Usyk would be ordered, but it was denied. Usyk’s team protested the extension, and the WBO sided with them.
The way things look, it probably wouldn’t have mattered if the extension had been accepted. WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury and his promoters at Top Rank are clearly not going to pay former WBC champion Deontay Wilder a step aside so that the Joshua-Fury fight could stay on schedule for August 14th.
The Joshua-Fury fight could have been saved if Fury had been open to paying Wilder a step aside. It would have cost Fury a bundle, but he would have made a massive amount of money facing Joshua on August 14th.
Fury won’t make that kind of money fighting Wilder in the trilogy match, and there will be plenty of risk in that clash. Wilder is healthy now with his right bicep having been operated on, and he’ll be ready for Fury’s aggressive style of fighting.
Fury and his promoter Bob Arum have decided to face Wilder on July 24th and hopefully win that fight and reschedule the Joshua clash for November or December.
If everything goes as planned, Joshua will beat Usyk, and Fury will triumph over Wilder. Joshua and Fury will then meet up for the undisputed heavyweight championship at the end of 2021.
On the flip side, if things go badly with AJ or Fury losing their next fights, then the dream fight between them will be off the table.
Depending on which of these two popular heavyweights lose, we could see Fury fighting Wilder in a fourth fight or Joshua taking on Usyk in a rematch. It’s safe to say that Fury won’t move on if he gets beaten by Wilder in their trilogy match on July 24th.
What led to all of this was Fury (30-0-1, 21 KOs) lost his arbitration case with Wilder last Monday. This was over the rematch that Fury owed Wilder from last year. They couldn’t fight each other because of the pandemic and Wilder having surgery on his right bicep.
Fury’s team believed that the rematch clause had expired, with the fight being delayed over a year. The arbitrator for the case, Daniel Weinstein, ruled that Fury still owed Wilder the rematch and set a deadline of September 15th for him to face Wilder.
On Wednesday, the WBO gave Joshua and his management 48 hours until Friday, May 21, to prove that the fight with Fury could still take place next. With Fury choosing not to give Wilder a step aside, it effectively ended any chances of the Joshua-Fury fight taking place on August 15th.
Now the only thing Joshua and Fury can do is hope they win their interim fights so they can meet later this year.
Joshua has the easier job facing the smaller, light-punching former undisputed cruiserweight champion Usyk than Fury, who will be dealing with Wilder with his main weapon now 100% after right bicep surgery.
Wilder has already said that he wants Fury’s “blood” and that he wouldn’t agree to a step aside offer. Of course, money talks, and Wilder may have shown interest to step aside if Fury had given him an offer he couldn’t refuse.
You can argue that a step aside offer between $20-to-30 million might have resulted in Wilder stepping aside.
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