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Not thrilled: Anthony Joshua likely to fight Oleksandr Usyk in September

Promoter Eddie Hearn said. “AJ believes that he punishes Usyk. But you have to understand that Anthony Joshua is a throwback fighter.”


No, Eddie. Joshua is a “nowadays fighter.” 

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Anthony-Joshua-and-Oleksandr-Usyk September 2021
Anthony-Joshua-and-Oleksandr-Usyk September 2021

Recently the WBO informed heavyweight champion, Anthony Joshua, that he must defend his belt against former cruiserweight champion, Oleksandr Usyk, in a few months.


Joshua didn’t like it.


Neither did his promoter, Eddie Hearn.


“Usyk is a pound-for-pound top fighter, and he’s the undisputed cruiserweight champion," Hearn said during a podcast with The 3-Knockdown Rule. “AJ is continuously fighting these guys that he gets a letter about telling him ’You must do this.’ And at some point, with the way he’s feeling at the moment, and the way I’m feeling at the moment, you don’t want to be told what to do.”


Oh, boo-hoo.


I wish Joshua would fight more than once a year. (If that)


My opinion has been for years that Hearn is protecting Joshua. Taking a chance once a year is better than twice. Joshua is, to me at least, the second-best heavyweight fighting. He packs power and such, winning 24 of 25 bouts, with 22 knockouts.


His lone loss was a doozy. Who will ever forget the night weight-challenged underdog, Andy Ruiz Jr., landed a temple-changing shot that left Joshua without legs, and a few minutes later, sans heavyweight titles.


To his credit, Joshua regained the heavyweight throne by defeating Ruiz in a rematch. The fight was a battle of extremes as Joshua came in lighter while Ruiz, who had celebrated his time as heavyweight champion a bit too much, came in heavier. Joshua outboxed Ruiz over 12 rounds. The victory was huge, but, as much as I was impressed by Joshua’s commitment to “just winning baby,” the feeling remained that if Ruiz could have landed one of his hooks, Joshua would have again resembled a drunk stumbling out of a bar in the middle of the night.


Joshua returned to the ring a year later (yep) – stopping Kubret Pulev in nine rounds.


Hearn believes that Joshua doesn’t receive the respect he deserves.


“Look at the run of fights that Joshua has had since Wladimir Klitschko,” said Hearn. “He was ordered to fight a mandatory straight after that, it was [Kubrat] Pulev. He accepted that fight and then Pulev pulled out with a week to go and he boxed [Carlos]Takam. That was his mandatory. In his next fight he fought Joseph Parker in a unification fight. In the fight after that he was told he had to face a WBO mandatory against Aleksandr Povetkin, a quite prime Povetkin, by the way, at the time.


And after that he had a voluntary [defense]. Who did he have as a voluntary? Andy Ruiz. He loses to him. He fights Andy Ruiz again and then he’s told now you’ve got another mandatory. It’s Kubrat Pulev. OK. Now you try to make the undisputed fight and now you’re told you have another mandatory, it’s Oleksandr Usyk.”


Oh yeah, that undisputed fight against Fury. Champion versus champion. For months negotiations dragged on. Whenever asked, which was often, Hearn kept saying the fight was a done deal. Any minute an announcement was forthcoming, he said. Stop asking me, he said. It was coming.


Only, it wasn’t.


What announcement did come down was that an arbitrator ruled that Fury would be fighting Deontay Wilder for the third time in July.




Risky stuff for all involved. If either Joshua or Fury loses, their 150 million plus mega-fight won’t be as appealing.


But isn’t that boxing what is all about? Taking risks. Especially heavyweights. Was it risky in 1971 for Muhammad Ali, having fought twice in four years, to fight undefeated heavyweight, Joe Frazier, who unlike Joshua, was active?


Oh, yes.


Hearn said. “AJ believes that he punishes Usyk. But you have to understand that Anthony Joshua is a throwback fighter.”


No, Eddie. Joshua is a “nowadays fighter.” You can’t have it both ways.


Reduce the risk and make a fortune.


Smart? Yes.


Legendary? Hardly.


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