We hope they fight.
In professional boxing, there has been a prolonged calm at the start of the year. The first big fight is confirmed for the beginning of March and it is between boxers from the second lightest weight, which can’t generate interest on both sides of the Atlantic.
Canelo is playing golf, Jake Paul is counting his millions and Terence Crawford is suing his promoter Bob Arum over racism. So it appears that the biggest troublemaker right now in boxing is Tyson Fury, who is calling for a fight between Alexander Usik and Francis Nganna.
But it is the fight against Usik that claims to be the main event of the year, not only in boxing, but in sports in general. Two undefeated heavyweights, two charismatic champions, real intrigue – this fight has everything to be watched not only by fans, but also by those who have no interest in martial arts. But most importantly, it’s the story of a good guy vs bad guy battle. A show like this always buys, and now is the perfect time to put it on.
Joshua is extremely dangerous to fight Usik right now. It’s not a case of Andy Ruiz, a defeat could end his career
The most obvious reason that opens the door to setting up a rematch, apart from the desire of Fury, Usik and their promoters. Anthony, after his outright smashing defeat in September, announced right at the press conference that he intends to get a rematch here and now, as was the case with his confrontation against Andy Ruiz.
But comparing Alexander Usik and Ruiz is simply incorrect. It was obvious that Ruiz really jumped over his head in the summer of 2019, and Joshua is simply better as a boxer, which Anthony demonstrated in the rematch. Here it’s the other way around, AJ tried to box the Ukrainian and was beaten on all counts. Obviously, if he fights in a more aggressive way he has more chances to succeed, but it doesn’t take away the obvious fact that Anthony has his whole career on the line, and that means a lot of pressure. Joshua’s psychology is clearly not as impressive as his muscles.
Everyone understands that, and his promoter Eddie Hearn most of all. He is very interested in the option of giving Usik the opportunity to fight Fury for compensation:
“I’m going to talk to Joshua about it, but there’s a problem. Dillian Whyte intends to appeal the WBC ruling to the Court of Arbitration. And that’s extra time. It complicates the whole procedure and it was not an easy one: to agree on a compensation package for both Anthony and Dillian, to write all the necessary clauses in the contract, to satisfy all the four parties. Imagine how complicated and time-consuming it all is.”
But there’s a point that Hearn doesn’t mention. He is White’s promoter, which means it is in his power to influence Dillian to make both the wolves fed and the sheep whole. Plus, Joshua has a big problem in his corner: he made a decision to part with his trainer, who he has been working with since amateurs, Rob McCracken, and a new one, Anthony Wilson, who is little known in boxing circles, has not been approved, at least publicly.
In general, the most successful option for Joshua would be to get a solid compensation, find chemistry with a new trainer, completely change his approach to the training process, have one or two fights with the tops. The options are many – Wilder, Joyce, Chisora, Ortiz, a rematch with White. These are just the ones that immediately come to mind. That choice is definitely better than going out on Usik in that state. A loss, even more painful, would put an end to his career. And it’s not just Hearn that Joshua is a big money-bag.
AJ would be much better off waiting for the winner of the Usik vs Fury fight. If Fury wins it’s the biggest fight in British history, if Alexander wins it’s a rematch that can be sold very differently, and if Joshua loses to the Ukrainian, he won’t even have to dream about such options.
He understands that better than anyone, so he has also publicly confirmed the possibility of giving Usik an opportunity to fight Fury. He and Alexander have already crossed paths in Dubai as part of one of the boxing forums:
“If the money is right, we will have to consider the offer. But respect is much more valuable to me than money. So first comes respect, then my reputation after retiring from heavyweight, and in the third place the renown of the smartest businessman”.
Now is the ideal situation for Joshua to take care of the latter.
Fury mentions Usik in almost every interview and accuses Alexander of doping. Even Vladimir Klitschko has got involved in the promotion of the fight
Both Alexander Usik and the Gypsy King have been talking about a first-ever heavyweight fight for all the belts for months. Tyson, by the way, has been promoting this fight even more actively than the trilogy with Deontay Wilder, mentioning the Ukrainian in almost every interview and social media post. In one of them the Briton decided to raise the temperature by accusing Usik of taking banned substances:
“Joshua let all the belts go back to Ukraine, after all the hard work I did to get them released. Joshua – you big useless bum! You let a little steroid guy who moved up from middleweight take all the belts from you. It’s going to take a real British bomber like me to rectify the situation and bring the titles back to the UK.
You’re useless sacks. Bring Usik to the Gypsy King and I’ll put him in his place! I’ll rid him of the titles again.”
The Briton’s statement was so surprising, as Usik has never once been caught doping, that another legend of the ring, Wladimir Klitschko, stood up in his compatriot’s defence:
“Tyson, you live in a glass house and someone has to take your stones. That was just before our fight when you actually had a positive result. Anyone can google it. Hold your own.
“People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.” It’s a British aphorism that means, “He who is not without faults himself should not criticise others for the same faults.”
Fury vs Usik is not just the most anticipated confrontation of the year, not just a historic fight. Both fighters are charismatic, hard-working, equally skilled boxers. Fury has an unquestionable size advantage, while Usik can outclass Tyson on reflexes.
There’s maximum intrigue in this fight, plus this fight is presented as a clash of good and bad guys. Such a fight is not only a dream for the fans, but also for the promoters. In terms of profits and PPV it’s quite realistic that it could surpass the Conor and Khabib fight. In an interview with Sports.ru Usik’s promoter Oleksandr Krasiuk said that the head of Top Rank Bob Arum is not against the organization of such a big fight in Kiev at the NSC “Olympic”:
“We are all sensible people and a fight like this is a historic fight. If we live to see it, God willing, we will have the wisdom to find a compromise. When we spoke to Bob Arum he said: “I know Usik will win. It would be cool for that to happen. Fury beats Wilder and the Usik vs Fury fight in Kiev for the outright championship”. Those are his words. It’s all on camera.”
But in this particular case it is not so important where such a big fight will take place, the most important thing is that the parties come to an agreement. It may well happen in the very next few months.