Joshua refuses to rule out stepping aside to let Fury fight Usyk

By Sports Desk November 28, 2021

Anthony Joshua says he would consider stepping aside from his rematch with Oleksandr Usyk to allow the Ukrainian to fight Tyson Fury.

Joshua is set to fight Usyk for a second time in early 2022 after losing to the 34-year-old, who claimed the WBA, WBO and IBF belts on a unanimous points decision at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in September.

WBC Champion Tyson Fury, after defeating Deontay Wilder in the final bout of a gruelling trilogy, is waiting on a decision whether a title fight will be ordered with Dillian Whyte, who wants to be sanctioned as the mandatory challenger.

However, Fury's ambition is to fight Usyk in a battle to become the undisputed champion, leading to calls from the 'Gypsy King' for his fellow Englishman Joshua to step aside.

For the first time a Fury-Usyk bout seems a possibility, with Joshua conceding he would consider skipping the sequel temporarily for both respect in boxing and financial gain.

"I think people know not to approach me with that rubbish," Joshua told IFL TV when asked if he had been offered a deal to skip the rematch. "That is bulls***. It may have come to my team, but they know not to bring that to me.

"Let me be real, it's not about the money, it's about the respect. What I want out of this game, number one is respect. You don't have to like me, but you will respect me. 

"Second thing is to go down as a throwback fighter, somebody who was willing to fight the best in their division so people know me as a true fighter.

"In terms of [stepping] aside, I don't know if that goes in line with what I morally stand for. But let me be real, I want to be known as one of the smartest businessmen as well.

"I used to watch Tyson, Holyfield, Bowe, we all know the stories of NFL players, basketball players, they make bad decisions. I wanted to make sure I make the smart moves when it comes to this business. If the money is right, you have to look at it.

"You have to look at it. But respect to me has a lot more value than money. Respect first, what I'm known for when I leave this division, then being the smartest businessman in my career. 

"That step aside thing, it may not go with what I stand for in terms of bringing me respect, fighting the best, but it may make sense for business."

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    The Gypsy King has not fought since successfully defending his belts against Dillian Whyte at Wembley in April, where he immediately expressed his intention to retire.

    However, Fury excited fans last week when he announced his intention to return to the ring with a fight against Derek Chisora, while the winner of Anthony Joshua's rematch against Oleksandr Usyk was also touted as a likely opponent.

    Nevertheless, he again reiterated his desire to retire on Friday - his 34th birthday - and vacated his Ring Magazine heavyweight title belt.

    Although this is not the first time that Fury has announced his intention to hang up his gloves, he has not previously relinquished a belt.

    And his decision came as a surprise to co-promoter Warren, who told Fight Night on talkSPORT: "At the end of the day, if that's what he wants to do, that's his right to do it.

    "He was actually looking forward to fighting last week; he was actually talking about fighting, but that's how he feels at the moment.

    "If that's how he feels, that's how it is; we've all got to support what he's doing.

    "I spoke to him a few times last week, and he told me he's weighing exactly what he was weighing for his last fight against Dillian Whyte – that's how hard he's training."

    But Warren is hopeful that Fury will perform another U-turn for a crack at the winner of the eagerly anticipated bout between Joshua and Usyk on August 20.

    "I know he's frustrated and next week - the 20th - it's a big, big fight, and all eyes will be on it," he added.

    "Whoever wins that fight, everyone will want to see him fight Tyson. If Tyson wants to do it, he will. If he doesn't, he won't."

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    The Gypsy King has not fought since successfully defending his belts against Dillian Whyte at Wembley in April, where he immediately expressed his intention to retire.

    Speculation continued to persist that Fury would return to the ring, with the winner of Anthony Joshua's rematch against Oleksandr Usyk touted as the likely opponent.

    On Friday, his 34th birthday, Fury again reiterated his desire to retire and has now vacated one of his heavyweight titles.

    "The Ring Magazine championship has always been the holy grail of boxing. They've been fantastic with me and I've always carried that title with pride," he told The Ring Magazine.

    "The greatest moment of my career was winning the world championship (by outpointing Wladimir Klitschko) back in 2015.

    "There's the great comeback after that with the three [Deontay] Wilder fights. There's been a lot of great highlights in my career – even the Dillian Whyte fight in front of 94,000 at Wembley. It doesn't get much bigger than that. And I went out with a bang."

    While it is not the first time that Fury has stated he would retire, he has not previously vacated any heavyweight belts and has made it clear he will not disappear entirely – hinting at a Hollywood appearance.

    "It was fun while it lasted. I had a good 14-year career. I actually boxed for 20 years, from 14 to 34 years old," he said.

    "I've enjoyed it. I've enjoyed the ups and the downs. My career was an Indian summer that just kept giving.

    "I've done well out of boxing. The world is open to so many things now. I'm doing a Netflix documentary at the moment.  I'm going to be recording an album soon. Who knows, you might even see me on the silver screen."

    Fury still holds the WBC heavyweight title and it is not known whether he will vacate that belt following his announcement.

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    Tyson Fury has conducted another U-turn on his boxing future, announcing his retirement on social media just three days after appearing to confirm plans for a return to the ring.

    On Tuesday, Fury revealed he had appointed a new trainer and urged Derek Chisora to accept an offer for a trilogy fight during a series of Instagram posts.

    But on his 34th birthday, the WBC heavyweight champion announced plans to exit the sport.

    "Massive thanks to everyone who had an input in my career over the years," he wrote on Instagram on Friday.

    "After long, hard conversations I've finally decided to walk away and on my 34th birthday I say bon voyage."

    Fury originally announced he would leave the sport following a sixth-round knockout of Dillian Whyte at Wembley Stadium in April, and has won 32 of his 33 professional bouts, registering one draw against Deontay Wilder in 2018.

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