Earlier this year, a fight every boxing fan across the world wanted to see was confirmed — Anthony Joshua vs Tyson Fury was announced, and the two British heavyweights were set to trade blows in Saudi Arabia later this year, with a second bout to follow in 2022.
However, Deontay Wilder, Fury’s old foe, crushed our hopes and dreams, as he demanded that the Gypsy King honours the third-fight deal in their contract. After refusing the pay the American the mammoth fee he wanted to step aside, an arbitration court deemed that the pair must go toe-to-toe for a third time.
With the fight scheduled to take place at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on October 9th, any hope of seeing an all-British unification bout this year is out of the question, while many have even ruled out Joshua vs Fury ever taking place — including Barry Hearn, the father of AJ’s promoter Eddie.
Of course, for the pair to even enter the ring for one of boxing’s biggest ever bouts, they must both see off their next challengers. For Fury, that means beating Wilder for a second time, whilst Joshua will need to need to add the first ‘L’ to Oleksandr Usyk’s very impressive boxing CV.
While sites like Betdaq have Joshua down as the heavy odds-on favourite to win their September 25th bout, which will take place at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in north London, the undefeated Ukrainian will be no easy feat for the Watford-native, who will be putting his WBA (Super), IBF, WBO and IBO heavyweight titles on the line.
Before moving up to the heavyweight division, Usyk beat Russian Murat Gassiev to unify the cruiserweight division and become the undisputed champion of the weight class. He retained his WBA (Super), WBC, IBF, WBO and The Ring cruiserweight titles by dispatching of Brit Tony Bellew in the eighth round at the Manchester Arena.
He then vacated his titles to move up to the heavyweight division, and he has since seen off American Chazz Witherspoon and Derek Chisora, stripping the latter of his WBO Inter-Continental heavyweight title — taking his professional record to 18-0.
Given the 2012 Olympic gold medalist’s pedigree, it will not be an easy night for Joshua, who hasn’t entered the ring since Kubrat Pulev surprised many to make the heavyweight champion really work for his victory, eventually winning via KO in the ninth round.
However, if a fight with Fury is to follow, then someone of Usyk’s quality is the perfect opponent for Joshua at this stage, as he will want to face a fighter that will really go toe-to-toe with him in the middle of the ring and give just as much as he can take, similar to the style of Fury.
After that shock defeat to Andy Ruiz Jr, which added a very frustrating blemish to Joshua’s previously unmarked professional record, it’s fair to say that the 31-year-old will take nothing for granted in the ring ever again, and that was clear when Joshua recently claimed that he knows he has ‘to be serious’ ahead of the Usyk fight.
“I’ve got another challenger who’s good, just as good [as Fury],” AJ said. “I have to be serious about him now. He will definitely step up, he will definitely take the fight. That’s what I need – people that are serious.”
Joshua knows what he needs to do on September 25th, he knows what is at stake, and we’d be very surprised if Usyk can throw yet another spanner in the works of Joshua vs Fury.
If AJ does get the better of the Ukrainian, and Fury dispatches of Wilder again, here’s hoping the pair will finally clash in 2022!