Anthony Joshua is willing to make the ultimate sacrifice in order to set up a heavyweight title unification against Tyson Fury, as reports suggest he will willingly vacate his WBO title in order to get the deal over the line.
Joshua will defend his three major world title belts against Kubrat Pulev in December in his first fight of the year.
The WBO, WBA and IBF champion, who won his belts back from Andy Ruiz in Saudi Arabia last December, is desperate to unify against WBC king Fury if he comes through unscathed against Pulev – in a deal which would likely include a rematch clause.
However, his plans could be thrown into jeopardy this weekend, as Oleksandr Usyk takes on Derek Chisora.
Unbeaten star Usyk is currently the mandatory challenger for the WBO, and it is likely he will be ordered to fight for the belt if he beats ‘Del Boy’ on Saturday night.
The Ukrainian former cruiserweight king has made no secret of his desire to challenge for world honours at heavyweight as soon as possible, and is unlikely to stand aside and wait for Joshua to unify against Fury.
But according to Eddie Hearn – who promotes both Joshua and Usyk – Joshua won’t hesitate to give up his WBO belt in order to challenge Fury.
He said: “If Usyk wins, he will be the mandatory to the winner of Pulev against Joshua.
“The tricky bit is: is that with no exceptions.
“At the moment, I think everybody feels that even an undisputed fight may not trump that mandatory.
“So if Joshua beats Pulev and we make Fury against AJ, we’d write to the WBO and say: “Do you want to do the fight with Tyson Fury against Anthony Joshua.
“They’d either say: Yes we’ll approve it. Or, no, Usyk is mandatory.
“If it’s the latter, you go to Usyk and say: Do you want to allow this fight and he says: Yes but what are you going to give me? Or no. Then you deal with it from there.
“I would be willing to say, subject to speaking to Anthony and what Fury wants, that we would be willing to vacate the WBO title straight after that fight, to let Usyk fight for it.
“Because we’re going to do two fights. So we’re tied up for 2021, so we can’t fight Usyk unless we don’t make the Fury fight. Then we will.”
Hearn went on to claim his priority is to make Joshua the undisputed heavyweight champion, and indicated that anything else would be secondary.
“I only really want AJ to win the undisputed title,” he continued.
“I’m not bothered about him defending it for the next 10 years.
“I just want to be able to say: You’re the undisputed heavyweight world champion, you did it, you won everything.
“After that, if we can set up a fight between Usyk and whoever’s No 2, we’ll do that.”
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