As fans know, the one and only Muhammad Ali was the first man to become a three-time heavyweight champion. Ali is one of Anthony Joshua’s heroes, and Joshua is aiming to follow in Ali’s footsteps and rule as a three-time champ. Right now, we are hearing all manner of things when it comes to who the big three at heavyweight – Tyson Fury, Oleksandr Usyk and Joshua – will or will not fight next. Bob Arum said this week that the situation is “total chaos,” with talk of money men in the Middle East wanting to stage a Fury-Usyk fight there.
There is talk of both Joshua and Dillian Whyte (who is Fury’s WBC mandatory) taking step-aside money to allow the Fury-Usyk fight to happen. But right now, that’s all it is – talk. Who knows what will happen? But above all else, Joshua says he is determined to rule as champion for a third time, “whether people like it or not,” he said in speaking with magazine Stuff.
“I’ve come up short twice, but the majority of times I have overcome many obstacles,” AJ told the lifestyle magazine. “Next fight I’m going to beat him [Usyk] and take those belts from him. And I’m going to reign again to become three-time heavyweight champion of the world – whether people like it or not. I’m not happy about what happened previously because that’s a competitor’s mindset. You have to be angry at losing, it’s not acceptable. So now it’s about driving forward. One thing people know about me is that I bounce back, and I don’t take losses.”
Joshua cannot afford a third defeat; even if he would still be a big name able to secure lucrative fights with a “3” at the end of his record and with no belt to call his own. But Joshua wants supremacy, he doesn’t want to be a mere contender again. It sure sounds as though Joshua wants that Usyk rematch bad, more so than he wants step-aside cash. And this is how it should be with a proud champion, or a proud ex-champion.
As much as we all want to see Fury Vs. Usyk, the Usyk-Joshua rematch is also a hugely intriguing fight. It would be a shame if it didn’t happen; if AJ was somehow denied the opportunity to redeem himself. For if Joshua were able to bounce back from his second loss and defeat Usyk in a return meeting, the word great would perhaps come into play.
Joshua says in the Stuff interview that “you have to be angry at losing,” that “it’s not acceptable.” The way Joshua seemed so relaxed, content even, after losing to Usyk in September drew much criticism. Let’s hope Joshua’s has a far different mental attitude going into the rematch with Usyk. We’ve never seen Joshua fight angry. Maybe it’s time we did.