What the Tyson Fury, Deontay Wilder rematch means for Anthony Joshua.
Just one day after Tyson Fury said that his unification bout with Anthony Joshua was “100 percent on” for August 14, an arbitrator ruled that Fury must instead grant Deontay Wilder a rematch by September 15, which obviously throws a wrench in the plans both Fury and Joshua.
The two men recently secured a roughly $150 million site fee, which would have netted each fighter an astounding $75 million.
The biggest loser in this arbitrator’s ruling is undoubtedly Joshua. While Fury will not make anywhere close to $75 million for the rubber match with Wilder, he will still make a quite a lot of money, as there is still fan interest in that potential trilogy. Joshua, on the other hand, will have to go back to the drawing board, and asses what his next move should be. There are a few options for the unified heavyweight champion.
There are a few options for Anthony Joshua
The safest, and smartest, play would be to take a ‘stay busy’ fight against a lower level opponent, and wait to face the winner of Fury vs. Wilder 3. Joshua knows better than anyone that any heavyweight needs just one punch to change a fight, and minimizing the chances of losing again would secure a massive payday for Joshua. He is popular enough in the U.K. that he could sell tens of thousands of seats no matter who he faces. Fighting someone who isn’t even in the top 15 could see Joshua have a training camp to stay in shape while he waits.
Joshua tends not to go that route though. Despite never facing Wilder or Fury, he almost always faces an opponent in the top 10 of the division. If he wanted to continue that trend, there are two fights that seem rather obvious to make.
The first option would be taking part in a trilogy of his own, and giving Andy Ruiz one more crack at the titles. Joshua’s brand took a bit of a hit when he lost to Ruiz in 2019, especially since Ruiz was a last minute replacement. They are 1-1 against each other, but Ruiz’s win was much more emphatic. Many fans were disappointed to see Joshua take a conservative approach in their rematch, opting for a decision victory as opposed to gunning for a revenge knockout, a la Lennox Lewis and Hasim Rahman.
Joshua could regain most, if not all, of the momentum he had prior to the first Ruiz fight if he could end their trilogy with an emphatic knockout, just as Juan Manuel Marquez did to rival Manny Pacquiao.
Alternatively, Joshua could face off against countryman Dillian Whyte. The two faced off in 2015, very early in each of their careers. It was a very competitive fight, one that saw Whyte hurt Joshua before eventually getting stopped. Whyte’s stock is on the rise coming off of avenging his shocking loss to Alexander Povetkin earlier this year.
This fight would do massive numbers in the U.K., and outside of the big three, Whyte quietly has one of the best resume’s in the division, he deserves a title shot as much as anyone.
Lastly, Joshua might end up being forced to take the option that has the highest risk, with the lowest reward, and fight Oleksandr Usyk.
Usyk, the greatest cruiserweight since Evander Holyfield, moved up to heavyweight in 2019. While he has not looked spectacular due to being undersized for the division, he is 2-0 and is still incredibly slick. He is arguably the best pure boxer in the division, and could easily outbox Joshua over twelve rounds.
Usyk is the mandatory for the WBO belt that Joshua owns, but stepped aside in order for Joshua and Fury to unify all the belts. If that unification does not happen, there is a very high chance the WBO would enforce this mandatory, putting Joshua in a bind. If he faces Usyk and loses, then he can say goodbye to the massive payday of a Fury fight.
Alternatively, if he were to not fight Usyk at all, he runs the chance of being stripped, which would severely hurt the allure of a Fury-Joshua fight, as it would not be for all of the belts.
There is also the chance that Wilder himself steps aside in order for Fury-Joshua III to happen, but this would require a massive step aside fee, which would likely come from the $150 million site fee.
It will be interesting to see how all of this unfolds, but no matter what happens, there are some great fights on the horizon in the heavyweight division.