By Jim Calfa: Anthony Joshua has seemingly changed his mind about not accepting a step aside payment to allow WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury to face IBF/WBA/WBO champion Oleksandr Usyk for the undisputed championship.
On Saturday, Joshua (24-2, 22 KOs) admitted that he’s been thinking about what would be a smart business move, and he now sees the logic of taking a step aside if the offer was enough.
At 31, Joshua is starting to come to terms with his career being on the brink of extinction with another high-profile loss. If Joshua doesn’t take the step aside, Fury may be forced to defend his WBC title against Dillian Whyte, and he could lose.
Assuming Joshua beats Usyk in their rematch, he would be stuck with a much lower-paying fight against Whyte for the undisputed heavyweight championship instead of Fury.
That would be a huge pay cut for Joshua fighting Whyte, who isn’t well-known in the U.S, and he’s nowhere near as popular as Fury worldwide.
Taking a step aside payment is the most logical move for Joshua. It puts him in a position to get a massive payday and potentially a better match-up against the easier-to-hit 6’9″ Fury.
What we saw from Fury in his last fight against Deontay Wilder last October is a fighter that has slowed down and is now vulnerable.
He’s now the ideal opponent for Joshua and the more accessible option than facing the elusive, crafty Usyk in a rematch that his chance of winning is slim.
Joshua thinking strategically
“If the money’s right, we have to look at it, but respect has a lot more value than just money,” said Joshua to iFL TV.
The 31-year-old Joshua sounds a little conflicted in his thinking process, but it’s understandable given what he’s endured in the last two years of his struggling career.
Joshua suffered defeats against Usyk last September and Andy Ruiz Jr. in June 2019.
Taking a step aside payment would be the ideal move for Joshua, as it guarantees that he’ll be able to fight for the undisputed heavyweight championship against the winner of the Fury vs. Usyk winner for all four belts.
The safe bet for Joshua right now would be to swallow his pride for a moment, take the step aside payment, and wait for the smoke to clear from the Usyk vs. Fury mega-fight. By doing that, Joshua would be guaranteeing himself a $100 million+ payday against the winner of the Usyk vs. Fury fight.
Joshua must swallow his pride
As Fury said earlier this week, if Joshua loses to Usyk a second time, that fight is dead for him.
He won’t bother fighting Joshua under those terms because he only wants to capture the four titles and then have one last fight, and he’s not going to use that last one against a fighter coming off consecutive losses.
We’ll see if Joshua opts to take the step aside payment or if he’ll choose to focus on his precious pride at the expense of a $100 million+ payday. Pride is nice, but it doesn’t help you attain your goals in any walk of life.
Joshua has got to think tactically and forget about his pride and focus on the money, and giving the fans the fight that they want to see against the winner of the Fury vs. Usyk match.