Published: 12:43, September 29, 2020 | Updated: 15:53, June 5, 2023
Joshua willing to sacrifice WBO belt
By Murray Greig

In this Dec 7, 2019 photo, British boxer Anthony Joshua (white trunks) competes with Mexican-American boxer Andy Ruiz Jr (golden trunks) during the heavyweight boxing match between Andy Ruiz Jr and Anthony Joshua for the IBF, WBA, WBO and IBO titles in Diriya, near the Saudi capital. (PHOTO / AFP)

Anthony Joshua is prepared to vacate his WBO heavyweight title if the sanctioning body orders him to fight Oleksandr Usyk before he faces Tyson Fury in the first of two fights between the British rivals in 2021.

WBO No 1 contender Oleksandr Usyk, a southpaw Ukrainian with a record of 17-0(13 KOs), is scheduled to face Bulgaria's Kubrat Pulev (28-1, 14 KOs) on Dec 12

Joshua's promoter, Eddie Hearn, said this week the WBO/IBF/WBA champion would prefer to keep all his titles if possible, but if it means he has to give up the WBO crown to face Fury twice in 2021, he'll do it.

WBO No 1 contender Usyk, a southpaw Ukrainian with a record of 17-0(13 KOs), is scheduled to face Bulgaria's Kubrat Pulev (28-1, 14 KOs) on Dec 12.

"There's been a lot of talk about 'give up the belt,' but the aim for Anthony Joshua is to be the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world,' Hearn said in an interview with Britain's Boxing Social.

"Will a belt get in the way of him fighting Tyson Fury next? Probably not. Would he vacate that belt to fight Fury next? Yes, I believe he would if he had to, but he would rather keep all the belts. One million percent.

"I hope that means something to people because it means a lot to Anthony if we get to a position where he is fighting Fury regardless of whether the WBO allows their title to be on the line.

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"It's almost like I want to go to Usyk and say, 'Look, we're going to vacate the title, but can we vacate it the day after the fight?' I don't care if the title of undisputed champion lasts for a day or 10 years-once you've won it, no one can take it away. In this day and age, it's challenging to stay undisputed."

Meanwhile, regardless of what happens in the ongoing soap opera between Joshua and Fury, former undisputed champ Mike Tyson says he's interested in facing Joshua (23-1, 21 KOs) in a charity bout.

The 54-year-old Tyson (50-6, 44 KOs), who retired in 2005 after being stopped in three of his last four fights, is already scheduled to face former four-division champ Roy Jones in a pay-per-view exhibition bout on Nov 28 in Carson, California.

"I would love to do that… it would be mind-blowing," Tyson said on BoxingNews24 this week when asked if he was interested in trading punches with Joshua for charity.

Of course, it all depends on whether the former self-proclaimed "baddest man on the planet" can get past Jones. If Jones can survive beyond four rounds, Tyson's stamina-which was exposed in his KO losses to Danny Williams and Kevin McBride-will become a factor.

While Tyson has looked very sharp in online videos of his training sessions, the 51-year-old Jones has looked slow and lethargic-testament to the five KO losses on his 66-9 record.