Anthony Joshua: ‘I’ll fight Tyson Fury and Wilder without the belts’
By Charles Brun: Anthony Joshua is ready to walk away from his rematch with Oleksandr Usyk to take on the winner of the October 9th fight between WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder.
Joshua (24-2, 22 KOs) would face the Fury vs. Wilder 3 winner without a world title, fresh off his loss to Oleksandr Usyk last Saturday night.
Former IBF/WBA/WBO heavyweight champion Joshua’s willingness to walk away from a loss to Usyk (19-0, 13 KOs) without attempting to avenge the defeat shows how long his confidence has sunk.
Joshua would rather take his chances against the Fury-Wilder III winner than he would in taking a rematch against Usyk.
Financially, it makes all the sense in the world for Joshua to give up on a rematch with Usyk, given that he can make a lot more money fighting Wilder or Fury.
The average boxing fan would likely go in the direction of a fight against Wilder or Fury because that’s the bigger payday than facing Usyk again.
AJ is willing to bet that the fans will still be interested in seeing him fight the Fury-Wilder winner without a world title, and he’s probably right.
It won’t matter at all that Joshua doesn’t hold a world title if he faces the winner of the Fury – Wilder III fight because the casual boxing fans just want to see Joshua fight either of those guys. They would even be excited at seeing Joshua fight the loser of that contest.
Joshua ready to fight Fury or Wilder without belts
“I’ll fight Tyson Fury and Wilder without the belts,” said Joshua. The belts are fun, it’s great, it’s legacy – but with or without the belts, I’ll fight whoever.
“The road to undisputed [champion] is a nice title to have and chase but would you still watch it without the belts?
“The main thing is that you have got two competitive fighters in the ring from UK soil that just want to go toe-to-toe,” said Joshua.
AJ needs to make up his mind soon about which direction he wants to go in for his next fight.
If Joshua wants to fight the winner of the Fury vs. Wilder 3 fight without a belt, he should stop talking about wanting to fight Usyk again.
Usyk will still be there for Joshua to fight after he faces the winner of the Fury vs. Wilder III contest.
AJ was a little confused
“I thought he [Usyk] was absolutely outstanding. I was worried about this fight a long time ago when it was first muted,” said Adam Smith to Boxing Social in reflecting on Joshua’s loss to Usyk.
“There was a lot of talk about Joshua being too big and too strong. I think he went back to the drawing board after the Ruiz fight, and they got him to box better.
“I think he went in a little bit confused about whether to box or use his natural attributes. Oleksandr Usyk didn’t let him get going.
“I thought he was brilliant. He was mobile. He started fantastically. I thought he won three of the first four rounds. Then Joshua came back and had a couple.
“It was hard to give AJ much after that. Certainly, by the end, he was exhausted. He battled hard, AJ, he was competitive. He was right in the fight, but he wasn’t winning, and I thought it was a masterclass.
“I thought it was a brilliant display of the sweet science and technical boxing by Oleksander Usyk. It’s a wonderful win for Ukraine,” said Smith.
Joshua wasn’t a little confused. He was a lot confused and had a 1000 yard stare that fighters have when they have no clue.
It would have been better had Joshua gone after Usyk looking to knock him out. Even if Joshua failed, he could at least feel happy that he gave it his all.
Unfortunately, the way Joshua fought was wishy-washy, trying to beat Usyk at his own game, which was never going to work.
Joshua wants revenge
“He didn’t do it enough, and I think he [Joshua] was worried after a few rounds that he was getting caught by backhanders,” said Smith.
“He was getting caught by the left hand of Usyk. As soon as he tried to impose himself, and he caught him with a few body shots.
“He was getting caught himself. It was very difficult, but he lost to the better man tonight. The rematch will be tough.
“He’s a warrior, he’s a competitor, AJ. He’ll be happy to share the ring with such a great fighter, and he’ll want to exact revenge in the rematch.
“It might be harder than the Ruiz rematch. Let’s see what happens. Did he fight the wrong fight?
“You’ve got to say that Oleksandr Usyk was brilliant from start to finish. I think he was beaten by one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world.
“We’ve known Oleksandr Usyk for the last ten years. Ruiz was more of a shock.
“It was easier to get the rematch sorted technically. What is he [Joshua] going to do this time? He’s going to have to impose himself much more in the rematch.
“He’s going to have to go a little bit more for broke, throwing caution to the wind, which he didn’t do tonight. Maybe he wasn’t allowed to,” said Smith about Joshua.
It’s going to be a lot harder for Joshua to avenge his loss to Usyk compared to when he did it in getting revenge against Andy Ruiz Jr. in December 2019.
First off, Usyk isn’t going to eat his way to 300+ lbs the way Ruiz Jr. did while celebrating his victory. Secondly, Usyk won’t be skipping out on training camp days in preparing for the rematch with Joshua.
Lastly, the Klitschko style that Joshua has been using lately won’t work against Usyk.
Joshua must return to the way he used to fight for him to have a shot at winning, and it’s unclear whether he can mentally get himself to fight courageously as he used to. That loss to Ruiz took the best part of Joshua.
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