By: Hans Themistode
The undisputed title reign of either Anthony Joshua or Tyson Fury will apparently be short-lived. With both heavyweight titlist headed towards a two fight showdown with all of the marbles on the line, whomever walks away from their first contest as the winner will become the first undisputed heavyweight champion since Lennox Lewis in 1999.
Although there will be reason to celebrate, neither man will have time to bask in the ultimate glory for long.
“The WBO will have to be vacated after the first fight,” said promoter Eddie Hearn to The Express.
While the WBC, IBF and WBA sanctioning bodies have all been onboard in allowing their undisputed contest to take place, the WBO has always been reluctant. Their resistance to the showdown mostly stems from mandatory challenger Oleksandr Usyk. After capturing every world title in the Cruiserweight division, Usyk decided that it was time to move on to bigger and better things. Upon arriving in the land of the heavyweights, the Ukrainian was guaranteed a title shot due to his status one weight class lower.
However, due to various injuries and a worldwide pandemic, Usyk’s title shot was protracted. Now, with wins against Chazz Witherspoon and Dereck Chisora, Usyk remains in the number one position to challenge for the WBO world title.
For the WBO, they were placed between a rock and a hard place. Ultimately, the sanctioning body decided to allow Joshua to hold on to his WBO title which now allows his unification showdown with Fury to have every single heavyweight championship on the line.
Not to be completely ignored, the sanctioning body has placated Usyk’s worries by allowing him to fight for its interim title against number two contender Joe Joyce. The winner of their matchup would then be assured a shot at the full title.
If either Joshua or Fury is stripped of the WBO title following their first matchup for refusing to face the winner of Usyk vs Joyce due to their immediate rematch, is of little importance. As long as the first contest between Joshua and Fury produces an undisputed world champion that’s all that matters. Even if it is short-lived.
“If they’re contracted to have two fights and the winner has got to fight the winner of Usyk vs Joyce, they’re just not going to do it. It’s fine because we get the undisputed first. All I want is the winner of this fight to be undisputed. What happens after that doesn’t matter, it’s just a rematch and another great fight. But this is what it’s all about, finding out who the best is.”
By: Hans Themistode
It doesn’t seem like the questions surrounding his return will ever end. Mostly because of how surprising his retirement was in the first place.
For former multiple division champion Andre Ward, he’s fought the urge to enter the ring after officially hanging up the gloves following a decisive knockout win over Sergey Kovalev in 2017. For many boxers – the bright lights, screaming fans and just the overall warrior feel associated with the sport is too much to pass up on.
In the case of Ward however, he is completely content with his decision. With that being said, if, for some reason, he were to make one last return to the ring, there is only one fighter he would want to face.
“Anthony Joshua,” said Ward on the Ak and Barak Show.
For those trying to understand why Ward, a man who has never fought higher than 175 pounds during the course of his career, would face someone who routinely enters the ring over 250 pounds, the answer is an easy one.
“All or nothing,” said Ward.
While names such as Canelo Alvarez and even Artur Beterbiev would be more realistic options, Ward has always envisioned himself wearing the heavyweight crown. As a young kid, the Oakland native watched as Roy Jones Jr. took home titles similar to the ones Ward wore such as the light heavyweight and super middleweight crowns. The newly elected Hall of Famer also sat back and watched as Jones Jr. won the heavyweight title as well.
For Ward though, he never made the trek that high up in weight. Nevertheless, following his win over Kovalev, Ward entertained the idea of taking on Joshua. Those thoughts, of course, were never realized as Ward opted instead to retire from the sport all together.
While Ward admits that the urge to fight is still there, he has also openly expressed how happy and comfortable he is in retirement. Currently, Ward is a boxing analyst for ESPN. In holding that role, he has surveyed the entire boxing landscape, including, the heavyweight division.
Presently, Ward believes that both Joshua and Tyson Fury are at the top of the list in the land of the big man. At this moment in time, the two sides are hammering together a deal to bring forth the first undisputed heavyweight champion since Lennox Lewis in 1999.
Picking from the two is a difficult ask. But if he had to choose a side, Ward has a feeling who will win their inevitable showdown.
“It’s Tyson Fury. Anything can happen, this is heavyweight boxing but right now? It’s Tyson Fury.”
By: Hans Themistode
Former WBC heavyweight belt holder Deontay Wilder is still working behind the scenes as he attempts to get Tyson Fury into the ring for a third time. After settling for a controversial draw in their first showdown in December of 2018, Fury closed the door definitively on their rivalry with a seventh-round knockout win in February of 2020.
Since then, Wilder has attempted to enforce a mandated third contest between them. However, due to lingering injuries as well as a worldwide pandemic, their trilogy has been pushed back on several occasions. Now, according to promoter Bob Arum and team Fury, the time has run out as their contract has reportedly expired.
Still, that hasn’t stopped the former long time titleholder from pursuing one final showdown. At the moment, both men are entangled in mediations over the possibility of a third contest. Despite both parties sitting down to hash things out, Wilder has apparently placed his foot in his mouth.
Several months ago, the Alabama native released a seething rant that pointed the finger directly at Fury. Claiming that the Gypsy product cheated during their second matchup. With time to dissect exactly what Wilder accused him of, Fury has decided that he will never share the ring with him again. No matter the circumstances.
“There was mediation over Christmas and New Years,” said promoter Bob Arum during a recent interview with Barbershop Conversations. “I don’t know, maybe the mediator will be able to solve the situation but we have a real problem. Tyson Fury has said to me and the mediator that not today, not tomorrow and not ever will he ever fight Wilder after what Wilder said to him. He regards it as a slur not only against him but against the Gypsy nation.”
While Fury is completely uninterested in sharing the ring with Wilder again, he feels the complete opposite about current unified heavyweight titlist, Anthony Joshua. With the two British stars in possession of every single heavyweight world title, the pair are locked in intense negotiations to determine who will become the first undisputed heavyweight belt holder since Lennox Lewis accomplished the feat in 1999.
For Wilder, the surly knockout artist refuses to be left in the cold. But while he continues to fulminate over why he should be given one more opportunity, Arum believes that the decision is solely up to Fury.
With a two-fight deal against Joshua reportedly nearly complete, Arum is under the impression that an undisputed title fight will be next for his heavyweight star. And whether he likes it or not, Arum is convinced that neither Wilder nor his legal team will be able to stop it.
“The idea of anybody stopping the Fury vs Joshua fight just can’t happen.”
By: Hans Themistode
At the age of 31, unified heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua is presumably smack-dab in the middle of his prime. With a growing number of boxers fighting well into their late 30s and early 40s, there’s reason to believe this is only the beginning for the British native.
However, if you ask the reigning three belt holder, he’ll tell you that the light at the end of his boxing tunnel is much closer than anyone else would’ve anticipated.
“This isn’t the start of my career,” said Joshua to Sky Sports News. “I’m coming towards the end of my career.”
While retirement was the topic of discussion, Joshua (24-1, 22 KOs) still has plenty left to do. A rumored two-fight deal with WBC/Ring magazine titlist Tyson Fury is currently in the works. That, along with possible matchups against the likes of Deontay Wilder, Oleksandr Usyk and a slew of others keeps Joshua’s mind preoccupied with the present.
With that said, Joshua is cognizant of his future and is gearing up for its rapid arrival.
“I’m not someone who lives in the moment and thinks that everything is just like for now. I’m always planning ahead so I’m coming towards the end of my career.”
For the 31-year-old, everything is coming full circle. After amassing a 40-3 record as an amateur, Joshua’s name began ringing bells following his 2012 Olympic gold medal-winning effort. It was on that stage where everything began for Joshua.
Now, he looks to end it all in the same way everything started.
“Five years left and that’s basically an Olympic cycle. I’ve got an Olympic cycle and a little bit more left, so when you see the next Olympics happen is when I’ll be coming to the end of my career and the next generation will be coming through.”
By: Hans Themistode
Anthony Joshua’s ninth round stoppage win which he scored over Kubrat Pulev was highlight-reel worthy. Yet, all that most people could talk about were the words he spoke after the fight. Or in this case, the lack thereof.
Following Joshua’s win, the unified heavyweight titlist was immediately asked to give his thoughts on the possibility of facing fellow champion Tyson Fury in his next contest. Joshua simply rolled his eyes and stated that if Fury continues to hold on to the WBC title, then that’s the route he wanted to take next.
While he believed it was a perfectly fine response, Joshua has been dragged through the mud for it as many, including Fury, have come under the impression that he doesn’t want to face him after all. Now, a few weeks after making those comments, Joshua took the time to clarify exactly what he was trying to say.
“I basically said, if Tyson Fury is the man with the belt then Tyson Fury is the man I want,” explained Joshua during an interview with IFL TV. “Basically what that says is I’ll fight anyone who has that belt. I just want to go for that undisputed championship.”
Becoming an undisputed heavyweight champion has always been on the bucket list of Joshua. For others however, his desire to win every belt imaginable takes a backseat to a possible mega showdown with Fury, regardless if he is a belt holder or not.
Unless something changes within the next few months, both Joshua’s propensity for gold and boxing fan’s wish to see him face Fury go hand in hand. Joshua may have gotten what he believes was undeserved criticism for his choice of words just a few weeks ago, but this time around, he made sure he articulated himself succinctly.
“I’m ready. The next fight, I want Tyson Fury. The next fight I want it to be for the undisputed championship of the world. With that said, they’re in conversations now. My management team and promotional outfit are trying to put a package together that will lead us into 2021.”
If both men do in fact square off at some point in time next year, their showdown will be viewed as one of the biggest in boxing history. Those views however, won’t allow Joshua to place Fury ahead of the line in terms of everyone else he has fought. Even with Fury in possession of the WBC title, facing him will be aggregated with the other belt holders he’s faced.
“I’ve fought six of seven champions in my short career. Tyson Fury is another one. There’s no reason why I would look at him as any different from any other. I’ve got four of the major belts, he has one. I’ll take that one from him.”
By: Hans Themistode
It’s the sexy matchup. The one that everyone talks about and quite frankly, it makes a ton of sense.
The first trip to the canvas allowed boxing fans to crack a slight smile. The second and third brought about a full grin. As unified heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua landed the finishing blow on mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev, fans across the world screamed in excitement before his 39-year-old body hit the canvas. It wasn’t just because Joshua’s one-punch knockout was captivating, but more so because of what it signified. An undisputed title fight with fellow champion Tyson Fury.
Not since Lennox Lewis’s 1999 win over Evander Holyfield has there been an undisputed heavyweight champion. By all accounts, both Joshua and Fury not only want the fight but are begging for it to happen next. With Pulev sitting in an emergency room concussed and former WBC belt holder Deontay Wilder on the outside looking in, both Eddie Hearn and Bob Arum, their respective promoters, have stated that they will sit down to talk immediately about putting together a two-fight deal.
But while Joshua, Fury, Hearn and Arum open the doors to begin negotiations, a six feet four inch, one-time Olympic gold medalist and former undisputed cruiserweight champion in Oleksandr Usyk stands in the way.
In the land of the heavy hitters, Usyk’s defensive/box first style has never appeared to be a true fit. During his brief time as a cruiserweight, Usyk could get away with outboxing his man and racking up the points on the judge’s scorecards as opposed to ending things with one deleterious blow. Yet, with wins over Mairis Briedis, Murat Gassiev and Tony Bellow – there was nothing left for him to do. His waist and shoulders were draped in cruiserweight gold. But the challenges were few and far between.
With nothing more to prove, Usyk (18-0, 13 KOs) moved up to the heavyweight division. A place where fighters often stomp and announce their presence demonstratively. For Usyk however, he tiptoed through and made his mark in a much different way.
In October of 2018, Usyk officially made his debut, pitty patting late replacement Chazz Witherspoon before ultimately stopping him in the seventh. Roughly one year later, Usyk would return to the ring yet again. This time against fringe contender Dereck Chisora. Unable to make a dent in his man, Usyk would settle for a close decision victory.
Criticism of his power has been the narrative surrounding his heavyweight ventures. No one wants to watch a big man dance around his opponent, make him miss, potshot him, wash and repeat for 12 rounds before cruising to a win on the judge’s scorecards. There has always been one theme when discussing heavyweight boxing.
One punch can end it all.
That of course, doesn’t apply to Usyk. Still, his shot at a world title was earned with his work one weight class lower. But with year number three approaching on his heavyweight trip, the soon to be 34-year-old is still awaiting his shot at a world title. Something that should have been granted to him the moment he landed in his new division.
Like any weight class, once a champion vacates his titles in favor of moving up in weight, said fighter will receive a high placement in the sanctioning bodies of his new home. In the case of the WBO, former champions in one weight class are immediately granted a world title opportunity. Nonetheless, a combination of injuries and a worldwide pandemic has forced him to wait.
In numerous conversations with Usyk over the years, the former Olympic gold medalist has dreamed of becoming a world champion in the heavyweight division. Yet, with both Fury and Joshua only one win away from achieving undisputed status, Usyk has been pushed to the side and forgotten.
Let’s be clear, a showdown between Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua for all of the heavyweight marbles is salient. But to Usyk, it’s inconsequential.
The sound of a pen scribbling across sheets of paper can be heard from boxing fans as a two-fight deal is currently being hammered out between Hearn and Arum. It would be fairly easy for Joshua to vacate his WBO world title, face Fury and the winner to eventually circle back to face Usyk at a later date. With that being said, it isn’t what the Ukrainian wants, nor is it what he deserves.
There’s something to be said for a fighter that has won at every level. From Olympic glory to championship status in the pro’s Usyk has done it all. For fans at home though, they could care less. Simply stand to the side and allow the British stars to settle the debate of who is the best in the world. Any discussion that does not revolve around a mega showdown involving Joshua and Fury will be met with complete fulmination.
To Usyk however, their complaints will draw the same creepy smile he has flashed at his opponents just before dismantling them. The sexy fight, the popular fight and the significant fight is Anthony Joshua vs Tyson Fury. But Oleksandr Usyk has earned his shot at Anthony Joshua first.
By: Hans Themistode
A crowd of one thousand fans stood on their feet and cheered as unified heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua placed the finishing touches on IBF mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev. After dropping his man twice in the third, Joshua closed the show in the ninth round at Wembley Arena.
Amongst the cheering fans who were thrilled with his performance was future hall of famer Floyd Mayweather Jr. As the two embraced afterward, Mayweather appeared to be congratulating him on his performance. But while Mayweather and the crowd tipped their cap to Joshua, promoter Bob Arum sat stone-faced in his palatial estate, unimpressed.
“No, goodness no,” said Arum immediately following Joshua’s victory when asked if he was impressed. “He was tentative and didn’t really show the ability to get away from a punch. He was a little better than ordinary. That’s the truth, I’m not going to sugarcoat it. He didn’t appear to pose any kind of problem for Tyson Fury.”
For months now, Arum claimed that Joshua would end up flat on his back when the two met in the ring. Arum’s assumptions, by and large, were true, just for the wrong fighter. Joshua pummeled Pulev and quickly ended any dreams of the 39-year-old becoming a world champion. His performance though, was mediocre at best according to Arum. The fact of the matter is, it wasn’t what Joshua did do, but more so what Pulev didn’t.
“Well, Joshua was clearly the better man. Kubrat couldn’t pull the trigger. He landed a couple of good shots but he couldn’t follow up and Joshua got him out of there. But I don’t think it was a particularly stellar performance by Anthony Joshua but it was good enough to get the win by stoppage.”
Joshua’s win, while heavily picked apart by Arum, did place a smile on the 89-year-old promoter’s face. The victory served as the final hurdle before an all-British heavyweight showdown between Joshua and WBC/Ring magazine belt holder Tyson Fury.
With the 39-year-old Pulev now out of the way, Joshua has effectively cleaned up his side of the street. As for Fury, he appeared to be entrenched in a messy legal battle with former WBC titlist Deontay Wilder. The two fought to a split draw in 2018 before Fury laid out the surly big man earlier this year. Fury was contractually bound to Wilder for a third contest, something that the former belt holder enacted immediately. However, due to numerous postponements for various reasons, their contract has reportedly expired.
Despite that, it hasn’t stopped Wilder from attempting to secure their trilogy. His attempt to legally enforce anything regarded Fury however, is extraneous.
“The contract has run out. It’s clear that it expired sometime in October.”
Deals for fights of this magnitude tend to linger and protract for long periods of time. In this case, Arum is expecting a quick and easy negotiation. The long time promoter has already scheduled a phone call with fellow promoter Eddie Hearn and has put together the framework of what would be a two-fight deal.
“I think we talk on Monday. It would be a 50/50 deal. The first fight is 50/50 and then the winner on the second fight gets 60%.”
Anthony Joshua vs Kubrat Pulev
During the first two rounds of Anthony Joshua’s heavyweight title defense against Kubrat Pulev (28-2, 14 KOs), both fighters were reluctant to let their hands go. In the third however, the script was completely flipped.
A left hand courtesy of Joshua left his man on wobbly legs. Pulev attempted to clinch and hold while Joshua chased him half way across the ring. In an attempt to prove that the shot didn’t hurt him, Pulev began sticking out of his tongue and screaming at the crowd. That moment of bravado didn’t last long as Joshua sent him down to the canvas.
Just a few seconds later Joshua (24-1, 22 KOs) continued his all out attack. In yet another weird turn of events, Pulev turned around completely and began heading to the corner. Before Joshua could rush in to attack, the referee stepped in and began counting, giving Joshua two knockdowns in the round.
From there, the action took some what of a lull period as Joshua looked to simply box on the outside. With Pulev’s energy fading, the British product rocked him Pulev again in the ninth. Some how, some way – the 39 year old picked himself up off deck, but there was nothing left in the tank. While bouncing back and forth on his toes, Joshua detonated a right hand on Pulev’s chin and just as he began falling to the ground, the reigning unified champion began walking off as he knew their contest was over.
Lawrence Okolie vs Nikodem Jezewski
The ring walk for Cruiserweight contender Lawrence Okolie (15-0, 12 KOs) was much longer then his contest against Nikodem Jezewski (19-1-1, 9 KOs).
With two quick knockdowns in the first round, Okolie pulled the curtain’s down on their contest in the second round as a right hand sent Okolie’s man down to the canvas for good
Hughie Fury vs Mariusz Wach
Like most Hughie Fury (25-3, 14 KOs) contests, the heavyweight found himself a bloody mess. Despite that, he still managed to outpoint and outgun gate keeper Mariusz Wach (36-7, 19 KOs).
With two early rounds already in the bag, a nasty cut due to a clash of heads in the third, complicated things for the cousin of current WBC heavyweight belt holder Tyson Fury. The blood may have made it more difficult to see, but Fury still controlled and dominated the action before winning virtually every round on the judges scorecard.
Martin Bakole vs Sergey Kuzmin
Make it five in a row for heavyweight contender Martin Bakole (16-1, 12 KOs). The once beaten British residence had a relatively rough time against Sergey Kuzmin (15-2, 12 KOs).
During the early going’s it was all Bakole as Kuzmin seemed content with sitting back and taking punches to the face. After sitting back for several rounds, Kuzmin seemingly woke up and took control of the middle rounds. His success however, was few and far between as Bakole did just enough to win the final few rounds.
At the end of the ten rounds, the judges turned in their scorecards which were as followed: 98-92, 97-93 and 96-94 all in favor of Bakole.
Macaulay McGowan vs Kieron Conway
From the moment the opening bell rang, fringe Jr. middleweight contender Macaulay McGowan (14-2-1, 3 KOs) had absolutely nothing for Kieron Conway (16-1-1, 3 KOs).
The British native came straight forward and landed shot after shot on his man. After a one-sided beating, Kieron dropped his man in the eighth. From there, the 24-year-old went into cruise control as he won an easy decision on the judges scorecards.
By: Hans Themistode
No matter how intimidating Anthony Joshua seemed on the outside, it didn’t take much to get under his skin. The surly knockout artist from Britain always found himself the topic of conversation, and more times than not, what was said about him wasn’t very flattering.
For the most part, Joshua has faced just about everyone at the top of the heavyweight division. Yet, it didn’t matter if he cruised to a unanimous decision victory over Joseph Parker or whether he nearly decapitated Dillian Whyte, the naysayers were always present.
By and large, Joshua managed to let the disparaging words roll off his broad back. But there were plenty of times where he engaged in the back and forth rhetoric. Now though, the current unified heavyweight titlist could care less what his peers have to say about him.
“None of these guys live in my head anymore,” said Joshua during an interview with Chris Mannix. “With all of that stuff Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder last year, it was like they both came together to say I’m the weak link in the division. Back then I was always trying to back myself but now it doesn’t matter.”
Talks of facing either Wilder or Fury still engulfs many of his conversations but at the moment, Joshua is just a few hours away from taking on IBF mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev. Although Pulev isn’t considered much of a threat to truncate the British native’s reign, considering Joshua’s last opponent who was thought of in the same vein, he isn’t taking his man lightly.
In June of 2019, Joshua would walk into his contest against heavy underdog Andy Ruiz Jr. as a 25-1 favorite. Unless you are completely oblivious to the sport of boxing, the outcome of their contest was well-chronicled as Joshua was dropped four times and later stopped in the seventh.
Since then, the 31-year-old managed to win back his titles six months later in Saudi Arabia with a one-sided victory over Ruiz Jr. Thoughts of overlooking Pulev, who is on an eight-fight win streak himself, just isn’t on the mind of Joshua. So while Pulev has his undivided attention, Joshua is well aware that his immediate future will involve a showdown with either Fury or Wilder.
Coming to terms with either man has proven to be more difficult than he originally thought. With that being said, he won’t chase them. When the dust settles on his showdown with Pulev, Joshua has offered both Fury and Wilder to reach out to him, something he believes is easy to do.
“When Fury is ready he knows where to find me. When Wilder is ready he knows where to find me. They all know where to find me.”
By: Hans Themistode
Anthony Joshua always kept a straight face. The current unified heavyweight champion heard the praise that was rained upon him from his fans but he heard the critics even louder.
Not long ago, the 30-year-old British product was accused of avoiding a unification showdown with former WBC belt holder Deontay Wilder. No matter who he faced in the ring, the questions would always revert and center around what seemed to be his reluctance to face Wilder.
No matter how long he kept his poker face on and ignored his critics, their disparaging words would eat at him day after day.
“Back then it was easy to live in my head rent free,” said Joshua to Chris Mannix during a recent interview. “They would tell me that I was ducking Deontay and I tried to back it up.”
For Joshua, the naysayers were easier to avoid in his palatial estate across the pound in England. With that being said, they were impossible to steer clear of once he stepped foot on American soil.
In June of 2019, Joshua made the long trek half way across the world to make his US debut. Waiting to dethrone him was what many believed to be a minimal threat in Andy Ruiz Jr. A win over his opponent was all but guaranteed, so much so that the topic of the conversation was once again shifted in the direction of Deontay Wilder. With Joshua finally beginning his British Invasion, the thought was that the two would meet if not in late 2019 then at the very least, early 2020.
Everything was seemingly figured out. Jump into the ring with Ruiz Jr., beat him down and move on to the real fight. That of course, didn’t happen as Joshua suffered a shocking seventh-round loss on the night.
Excuses were never used on Joshua’s behalf. He simply placed a towel over his head, shook Ruiz Jr.’s hand and sauntered out of the ring. The near 25-1 underdog had won fair and square but with all of the talk revolving around a mega showdown between himself and Wilder, it was difficult for the British product to keep his eye on the prize.
“Last year was difficult when I was about to fight Ruiz. Remember I was that guy who was ducking everyone. I didn’t want to fight Deontay Wilder. I was going on different sports shows in America and they would say why are you ducking Deontay Wilder? I’m trying to explain myself but I’m fighting Ruiz in the background but no one cares about Ruiz. When I’m in the corner you can see I’m not even interested in this fight. Why am I even here?”
Even with his attention diverted, Joshua nearly walked out of Madison Square Garden with his undefeated record intact. In the third round, Joshua floored his man. From there, the women in attendance began grabbing their purses and the men reached for their jackets as the contest was presumed over. That of course, was far from the truth as Ruiz Jr. not only rose to his feet but dropped Joshua twice in the very same round before ultimately ending things in the seventh.
The win for Ruiz Jr. turned him into a superstar. He was given all of the credit in the world as he made daily appearances on television shows around the globe. A defeated Joshua noticed the attention that his man was given. He wasn’t envious of it, but he is firmly under the belief that if he were to handle business on the night, the response in return would’ve been ho-hum.
“There’s no respect or admiration for facing these guys. But when I lose their all saying that Ruiz is the new Rocky and he’s this and that but why wouldn’t you give me that love for beating him?”
Even with Joshua winning their immediate rematch six months later, fast forward roughly one year later, and he finds himself in almost an identical situation. In just a few more days Joshua will make his lone ring appearance as he takes on IBF mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev. Much like his first showdown against Ruiz Jr., Pulev, 39, isn’t viewed as much of a threat. Instead, much of the buzz has been centered around a possible matchup with fellow heavyweight champion Tyson Fury.
In the past, those thoughts would have distracted him. Now, after learning the hard way, he won’t allow that to happen again.
“I learned to focus on myself. I realize that I don’t have to prove anything to anyone.”
By: Hans Themistode
With one look at the huge muscles and impressive physique, it’s easy tell just how hard unified heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua works on his body. With only a few days left until he puts his titles on the line against perennial contender Kubrat Pulev, Joshua, still possessing muscles that protrude from every part of his body, revealed that the focal point of his training camp had nothing to do with perfecting his monumental frame.
“My body is just a vessel that carries my brain so I trained my brain more so than my body,” said Joshua during a recent interview. “I’m ready war, I’m ready for a fight. I’m looking forward to it.”
Joshua, like many others, was forced to sit patiently on the sidelines as COVID-19 continued to turn the world upside down. The time away may have allowed him to press the reset button but it will have been just over one year since he has last competed in the ring. That of course, came in Saudi Arabia against Andy Ruiz Jr.
After losing to Ruiz Jr. six months prior, Joshua walked into his immediate rematch for the first time in approximately five years without any heavyweight titles strapped around his waist. That however, wouldn’t last long as Joshua pummeled Ruiz Jr. to win those belts back. There was nothing fun about losing his titles in June of 2019. With that being said, being the challenger for a change was something that he thoroughly enjoyed. So much so that he has decided to adopt that mindset for his matchup against Pulev as well.
“I’m just more motivated than him,” said Joshua as he spoke on a daily DAZN show on SiriusXM. “I know that this is everything to me, this performance, this fight is. I feel like I’m fighting for the title, but I’m more experienced. I feel like – I don’t know how to explain it – I feel like I’m a challenger coming in to fight the champion. But I know I’ve done everything I can possible to make sure I get this win, and I’m willing to go in deep waters. So, whatever Pulev brings to the table, I hope I make it look easy because I’m that well prepared.”
With eight straight wins under his belt, Pulev hasn’t tasted defeat since his first title shot against Wladimir Klitschko in 2014. Although Joshua has been busy focusing on his own career, he’s kept a close eye on Pulev for quite some time now. The manner in which he has strung together those wins has forced Joshua to consider him a real threat. Talk coming from those backing Pulev to win via stoppage won’t receive any pushback from Joshua. Instead, an annoyed smile comes across his face.
For the British native, the trash talk is perfectly fine with him. In turn, he simply complements his opponent before offering his own warning.
“I’m just looking at it like Pulev is great. He’s got good balance, he’s [got] a very European style, he’s got a great jab, and he wants to be a bully. I’ve seen him in fights with Wladimir Klitschko, with Hughie Fury, with Rydell Booker and these guys. He wants to bully these guys. But that’s why I say like I’m a killer as well. Even though I’m a businessman, I’ve definitely got a killer instinct in me.”
By: Hans Themistode
The questions surrounding Oleksandr Usyk and his run in the heavyweight division are slowly being answered. The former undisputed cruiserweight champion survived a few rough moments early on against fringe contender Dereck Chisora before dancing his way to the finish line this past Saturday night.
Usyk, 33, may have had the advantage in terms of skills, but with his opponent carrying with him a near 40 pound weight advantage into the ring, many wondered how the Ukrainian product would react to a much bigger and stronger man.
However, following a unanimous decision victory, Usyk gave no mention to Chisora’s physical advantages. Instead, he was more so exasperated over what he believes were dirty tactics.
“Dereck was a huge test for me,” said Usyk during a post fight interview with Sky Sports Boxing. “He did so many low blows, elbows and hits to the back of the head but it really made me stronger.”
With a mandatory title challenge already guaranteed to him, Usyk (18-0, 13 KOs) was never interested in facing Chisora to begin with. Yet, with unified champion Anthony Joshua already married to a title defense against Kubrat Pulev, the Ukrainian risked his mandated title shot in order to keep off the ring rust.
For Joshua, he’s expressed an interest in facing Usyk, but he’s also made it clear that after he takes care of business against Pulev on December 12th, he would much rather unify titles against Tyson Fury. The winner of their highly anticipated matchup would be crowned the first undisputed heavyweight champion since Lennox Lewis in 2000.
Despite the historical significance, Usyk has no intention of sitting on the sidelines.
“I am the mandatory for Anthony Joshua so he has two options. One, to fight me, the other one is to vacate and fight Tyson Fury. Either he fights me or he relinquishes.”
The normally active former Cruiserweight kingpin has been the exact opposite over the past two years. With a number of injuries and a worldwide pandemic slowing down his action in the ring, his contest against Chisora was only his second in two years.
The rust was evident as he appeared uncomfortable early on. With that being said, Usyk believes that the best is yet to come.
“I feel like I can do better. I didn’t box for a year so it took me a little while to warm up. We definitely will do much better in the future.”
By: Hans Themistode
For the past several months, unified heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua and WBC/Lineal belt holder Tyson Fury have teased a future matchup between them. Not too long ago, promoter Eddie Hearn revealed that both sides came to an agreement for two showdowns in 2021.
But while most of the world continues to ponder who would win between the pair, the former Olympic gold medalist isn’t fixated on the mega showdown.
“I have to really focus on Kubrat Pulev,” said Joshua to Sky Sports Boxing during a recent interview. “I know the names that people really want to see, but this is a mandatory challenge. I have to defend my titles against this guy. I’m going to really focus on my training to get the win because that’s what sets up the bigger fights in the future.”
Pulev of course, could care less about Joshua’s interest in facing Fury or any of the top names in the heavyweight division. With only one loss on his record which came six years ago in his first title challenge against Wladimir Klitschko, the Bulgarian native has reeled off eight straight wins which in turn has him positioned number one for Joshua’s IBF title.
A matchup with Pulev on December 12th, may not bring the sort of attention that a contest with Fury would, but regardless of that, Joshua (23-1, 21 KOs) isn’t taking him lightly.
“He’s a good fighter and I have to take him seriously. If I do that, then I’m confident that I’ll go in there and do a number on him.”
By the time Joshua walks through those ropes to face his mandatory challenger, it will mark roughly one year since his last contest. That of course, came on December 7th, when the British product traveled halfway across the world to Saudi Arabia to win back the heavyweight titles he lost six months prior against Andy Ruiz.
Things played out exactly the way he wanted as he outboxed his man and cruised to a unanimous decision victory. Since then however, Joshua has spent his time on the sidelines due to a combination of injuries and the current worldwide pandemic. Although he was looking forward to entering the ring at a much earlier date, the time away was exactly what he believes he needed.
“It’s not a bad thing. The body needs it. We’re going nonstop pushing myself. I’m trying to promote boxing, trying to be a better boxer and a family man. The world is going just so fast. So to have my own selfish time to breathe for a second it’s important for the mind. I’m ready now and anyone who wants smoke out there, I’m well prepared for.”
By: Hans Themistode
Long before Tyson Fury became the top dog in the heavyweight division, he always considered himself the best of the best. His Lineal and WBC titles only strengthen his argument.
With a dozen years in the pro’s, Fury knows exactly what a top heavyweight looks like. So he always finds it surprising when anyone considers Anthony Joshua even remotely close to that.
“Anthony Joshua is a third tier heavyweight,” said Fury to TalkSports. “There’s levels to this game and I am top tier.”
Any list that doesn’t involve Fury at the top of it, is a bad one as far the British native is concerned. With that being said, he does generally rank as the best that the heavyweight division has to offer. But trailing close behind him is usually Joshua. Yet, when asked to put together his own list, Joshua found himself behind several notable names. Even one who is barely considered a heavyweight.
“There’s me and [Deontay] Wilder who can beat them all – easily – but I do put Oleksandr Usyk in there because he’s a fleet footed southpaw. All these heavyweights can beat each other, as we’ve seen.”
Usyk, 33, was the man to beat one weight class lower in the Cruiserweight division, having won every major title. But in the land of the big men, he’s been both inactive and untested. Come October 31st however, the latter will seemingly change once he takes on perpetual contender Dereck Chisora.
A win over his man will solidify Usyk’s spot as the mandatory contender for Joshua’s WBO title.
There’s been a bit of doubt as to whether or not that matchup will actually take place. Over the past several month’s Fury has called out Joshua at every turn. Even offering to face his British counterpart with one hand tied behind his back.
In short, it doesn’t matter if they met in the ring or the parking lot, there’s nothing Joshua can do to pick up a win against him.
“I beat two champions with more than 10 defenses and I could beat Joshua. I can beat him every way and there’s only one way to prove I can’t – come and show me I can’t.”
Those aforementioned fighters Fury mentions are none other than Wladimir Klitschko and Deontay Wilder. Before Fury can give his full undivided attention to Joshua, he’ll have to get pass Wilder again. But with a seventh round stoppage win under his belt when they met earlier this year, Fury didn’t sound concerned about taking down the hard hitting Wilder for a second time in a row.
“Wilder is a dynamite puncher, but he couldn’t live with the Gypsy King.”
By: Hans Themistode
Most of the boxing world has been fixated on how a Tyson Fury vs Anthony Joshua showdown would play out. Most of that is due to the fact that both men have come out and expressed their interest in making their fight a reality.
But while fans and observers are split down the middle on who would actually win, promoter Eddie Hearn cringes whenever he hears a contest between the two discussed. It may be a great fight on paper, but there are way too many roadblocks in the way to have any serious discussions just yet.
“I’ve been talking to Bob Arum about various things such as Crawford against Brook which looks close to happening as well,” said Hearn to Sky Sports. “We want to talk about it but we also want to take care of business which Kubrat Pulev for AJ and Deontay Wilder for Tyson Fury.”
As mentioned by Hearn, one bad night at the office is all it will take to derail one of the biggest fights in recent heavyweight history.
For Fury, although he’s beaten Wilder before, the former heavyweight champion is reportedly in “tremendous” shape and looks forward to decapitating the British champion this time around. Joshua on the other hand, may have a seemingly easier opponent in front of him in Kubrat Pulev, but with eight straight victories under his belt, coupled with Joshua’s most recent loss against Andy Ruiz Jr. in mid 2019, the 6 ‘6 chiseled unified champion is believed to be vulnerable.
Still, even with Wilder possessing the sort of power that could leave a fighter in a vegetative state and Pulev in the best form of his life, Hearn believes both Fury and Joshua will get through their preliminary matchups and meet twice next year.
“I’m very sure you are going to see two versions of that fight in 2021. I think we are on the verge of papering that deal with Bob Arum. We haven’t done it yet but all of the conversations have been positive. In 2021 I’m very sure we are going to see those two fights.”
The road isn’t exactly easy for either man, but it’s a clear one, at least for Fury. The current WBC and Lineal titlist simply needs to get past one more opponent in Wilder before he can attempt to unify the division. Yet for WBA/IBF and WBO titlist Anthony Joshua, his road to a mega showdown with his rival has a few more landmines.
Provided Joshua gets past Pulev, standing in between him and the matchup he wants against Fury could be WBO mandatory challenger Oleksandr Usyk. The former undisputed cruiserweight champion is set to take on heavyweight contender Dereck Chisora later on this year.
At no point has Usyk ever expressed a desire to take a backseat in order to let someone else take his world title opportunity, and nothing has changed in that regard.
“For sure, he’s not stepping aside. He wants to fight the winner of Joshua vs Pulev for the WBO world title. Usyk believes he can go out and get a good win under his belt in the heavyweight division and then move on to challenge for a world title in 2021.”