By: Hans Themistode
Anthony Joshua always tries to play it cool. The current unified heavyweight titlist rarely shows his emotions but following the fallout of his undisputed showdown against Tyson Fury, Joshua was visibly apoplectic.
While Joshua believed he had a deal in place to face Fury, Deontay Wilder swooped in and seized the showdown right from underneath his nose. The two will now face off on July 24th in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Forced to change course, Joshua (24-1, 22 KOs) is now deep in negotiations with mandatory challenger and former undisputed cruiserweight champion, Oleksandr Usyk. Currently, a few small wrinkles are still being ironed out between both sides but Joshua is firmly of the belief that the Ukrainian will be his next dance partner. Although an official contract hasn’t been signed, Joshua let the cat out of the bag in terms when he expects to face the former Olympic gold medalist.
“I wanted to go like August but change of opponent, completely different style, the team said push it back a little bit, prepare properly,” said Joshua during an interview with Sky Sports Boxing. “This is a fight I need to win because I was at the final destination on that road to undisputed but now we have a pit stop we have to make with Usyk. At the end of September is when I’ll be taking on the former undisputed cruiserweight champion of the world.”
While the fallout between Joshua and Fury was ultimately disappointing to most of the boxing world, to Usyk (18-0, 13 KOs), it was music to his ears. Ever since winning all four major world titles in the cruiserweight division in 2018, Usyk has attempted to make his mark in the land of the big men. In October of 2019, Usyk easily stopped journeymen Chazz Witherspoon. He then followed that up with a close unanimous decision victory over the rough and rugged Dereck Chisora.
The wins may have allowed him to get acclimated to fighting bigger men, but it hasn’t brought about ringing endorsements regarding his future in the division. For example, shortly after his defeat, Chisora claimed that Usyk has “no power” and has “no chance” against the upper echelon of the weight class. In the mind of Joshua, he echoes those sentiments, at least to a certain extent. Regardless of the countless world titles Usyk has won in a lower weight class and despite his amateur pedigree, when questioned about the danger that Usyk presents to him in the ring, Joshua didn’t stammer when answering.
“None,” continued Joshua. “I fear none of them. He don’t bring nothing I ain’t seen before. Two hands, two legs, a brain and a bit of heart. He’s a good fighter, I’m challenging myself in training. So yeah, let’s get it on.”