IBF/WBA/WBO heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua and his WBO mandatory Oleksandr Usyk have two potential dates of August 21st and August 28th for their fight if Tyson Fury is unable to work out a step aside deal with Deontay Wilder.
The arbitrator for Fury’s arbitration hearing ruled that he must face former WBC champion Wilder by September 15th at the latest. There’s some confusion as to whether Fury and his co-promoter Bob Arum will offer Wilder (42-1-1, 41 KOs) a step aside deal or not.
Arum told ESPN that he would absolutely not be offering Wilder a step aside deal. Instead, he wants Fury to fight him on July 24th at the new Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada.
But others have heard that Arum would be amenable to giving Wilder a step aside so that Fury could face Joshua in a lucrative clash on August 14th in Saudi Arabia. Right now, it’s unclear whether Fury will attempt to pay Wilder to move out of the way.
Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn said that Fury and his promoters have until the end of the week to get the situation sorted out with Wilder to have him step aside. If no deal is made, Hearn will move Joshua forward to face Usyk or possibly another option.
In the meantime, Usyk’s attorney, Patrick English, asked World Boxing Organization to request Joshua to fulfill his mandatory obligations. “direct Joshua to fulfill his mandatory obligation or to give up the title.
“We do not care if Mr. Fury fights Anthony Joshua. We do not care if he fights Deontay Wilder. We do care if either fights impairs in any way the right of Oleksandr Usyk to be [in the] next WBO title bout.”
Going by what Joshua’s promoter Hearn was saying today in a video on the Matchroom Boxing channel, Usyk and the WBO won’t have to pressure AJ to give him the fight he’s requesting. That was the first option that Hearn mentioned for Joshua.
Although if Joshua vacated his WBO belt, he could probably make a heck of a lot more money fighting Dillian Whyte rather than Usyk. Joshua probably won’t do that.
Sources: Aug. 21 and Aug. 28, two dates being tossed around for a potential Anthony Joshua-Oleksandr Usyk heavyweight title fight. If no step-aide deal struck between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder, Joshua-Usyk likely to be ordered by WBO,” said @MikeCoppinger.
Joshua vs. Usyk would be a tremendous letdown for the boxing world from a Joshua-Fury fight, but it looks like he’ll have no choice.
If Joshua doesn’t want to lose the WBO belt, he’ll have to defend against the 34-yer-old Usyk. That fight is likely to be a terrible mismatch. The former undisputed cruiserweight champion Usyk has looked pedestrian in his fights against Dereck Chisora and Chazz Witherspoon since moving up to the heavyweight division. Indeed, Usyk looked lackluster even before those fights in struggling to beat a past his prime Tony Bellew in 2018
Usyk has bulked up to 231 lbs since his last fight against Dereck Chisora last October. That’s a 14-lb weight gain for Usyk from the Chisora match, but it’s unclear whether the extra weight will make a difference against the 6’6″ Joshua.
Adding more weight to Usyk’s small frame will likely slow him down and make him an easy target for Joshua’s punches.
Krigel still believes Joshua vs. Fury is possible
“I still think there’s hope for Saudi Arabia on the 15th,” said Mark Kriegel to ESPN about the Joshua vs. Fury fight.
“If you are looking at it rationally, which is not a given in this fight, if I’m Deontay Wilder, the last time I fought, Tyson Fury beat me pretty good. That’s a humiliating experience.
Whether he thinks he can get him or not, why not take the [step aside] money and use the time to your advantage provided for yourself to fight the winner of Fury vs. Joshua.
In other words, you can get some money for stepping aside, train and use all that intelligence you gain and fight for four belts [against the Joshua-Fury winner] instead of one belt in November or December,” said Kriegel.