Anthony Joshua’s loss to Oleksandr Usyk leaves Fury 'wounded'
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Anthony Joshua is set to face another opponent before his world heavyweight title rematch with Oleksandr Usyk, according to Eddie Hearn. Last September, the Ukrainian outclassed ‘AJ’ at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium to take a unanimous points verdict, and the British fighter’s WBA, IBF, WBO, and IBO heavyweight belts.
Joshua, 32, immediately triggered his rematch clause, and then resisted an offer from Tyson Fury’s camp to step aside so that ‘The Gypsy King’ could have a world title unification bout with Usyk.
However, those plans have now been put on hold following Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine, which began on February 24.
Usyk, 35, was on a promotional tour in London when the conflict began, but promptly flew home before declaring he had taken arms in order to fight for his country.
In doing so, he joined boxing compatriots Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko, and Vasiliy Lomachenko, who have also joined the military as Russian attacks on the capital Kyiv, and surrounding areas, intensify.
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The development inevitably cast doubt on the proposed Joshua v Usyk bout, with the latter telling CNN. “I really don’t know when I’m going to be stepping back in the ring.
“My country and my pride are more important to me than a belt.”
And now Hearn, 42, has revealed via iFL TV that he has held discussions with Alex Krassyuk, the world champion’s promoter.
During the interview, Hearn said it appeared that Usyk will need more time before facing the British fighter, meaning he will instead seek an interim fight in May or June.
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Hearn added that Joshua’s ‘top choice’ for his next fight would be Deontay Wilder, who is yet to return to the ring following his dramatic defeat to Fury in Last Vegas last October.
Wilder, 36, has said little about his future since the trilogy bout, other than to deny he is contemplating retirement and a fight with Joshua would represent a lucrative night for ‘The Bronze Bomber’ – whether it be in the UK or America.
Luis Ortiz, Otto Wallin and fellow British fighter Joe Joyce were also labelled targets as Joshua seeks a competitive bout.
Olympic silver medalist Joyce, 36, is unbeaten in all 13 of his professional fights, and the notion of an all-British clash would undoubtedly sell, although Wallin may be seen as a more obvious candidate.
Like Usyk, the Swede is a southpaw, so his fighting style is something ‘AJ’ would potentially feel more inclined to get accustomed to as he bids to regain his belts for a second time.
Wallin, 31, has just one loss on his record, a points defeat against Fury back in September 2019. However, whilst the outcome was unanimous, the Manchester man had to famously dig deep after Wallin imposed a deep cut him early in the fight.
Afterwards, Fury had 47 stitches inserted above his eye to treat the wound.
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