One “obstacle” in the form of a mandatory title defence may have been removed due to Dillian Whyte losing to Alexander Povetkin a little over a week ago (the two heading into an immediate rematch) but there could be two more fights Anthony Joshua has to take before he can meet Tyson Fury in a huge unification clash. As fans know, AJ is set to defend his belts against IBF mandatory Kubrat Pulev in December, and after that, it could be WBO mandatory challenger Oleksandr Usyk.
Usyk’s co-promoter, Alexander Krassyuk, spoke with Sky Sports and he made it very clear: the winner of Joshua and Pulev must either fight Usyk next or vacate the WBO heavyweight title. Krassyuk pointed out how his fighter has been WBO mandatory challenger for over a year.
“He has agreed to let AJ versus Pulev happen, with regards that the winner fights him next,” Krassyuk said of Usyk. “This statement is solid. Our plan is A) beat Dereck Chisora B) push AJ to comply with WBO rules or vacate the title C) defeat AJ (or any other WBO champion or contender and become the heavyweight champion. Simple and practical.”
Simple and practical Usyk’s plan may be, but not everybody is happy to see not one but two mandatory title defences come before the big one we all want to see – Fury Vs. Joshua. Frank Warren and Bob Arum have both been very vocal, stating how the fans “don’t care” about mandatories, that they just want to see the best fight the best. Warren said that, if he had his way, Fury and Joshua would meet next, with no AJ-Pulev fight and no Fury-Deontay Wilder III fight.
But does Joshua look at the Fury fight as his priority, or does he see the winning of all the belts as his number-one goal? Eddie Hearn has said many times how important it is to Joshua to become undisputed heavyweight champ, therefore it’s unlikely AJ will vacate a belt to allow the Fury fight to take place next. This would mean AJ would have to defeat Pulev and then Usyk before facing Fury. But how much time would this take? Will Fury wait for Joshua that long?
In the meantime, Usyk has to get past Chisora and the date now being looked at for that fight is October 31. It could be some time before we see an undisputed heavyweight king.