Eddie Hearn has revealed that it is now “virtually impossible” for Anthony Joshua to step aside from his rematch with Oleksandr Usyk.
There has been plenty of talk in recent weeks over the possibility of AJ standing aside from the second fight with Usyk in order to allow the Ukrainian to fight Tyson Fury and crown an undisputed heavyweight champion.
Joshua would be sacrificing his opportunity to win back the belts he lost to Usyk back in September but in exchange for a lump sum. Both he and promoter Eddie Hearn admitted that it was a possibility worth considering.
However, there does not now appear to be any chance of that coming to fruition, with Hearn having written in his latest column for BBC Sport that the WBC ordering Fury to fight mandatory challenger Dillian Whyte has scuppered those plans.
“There’s been lots of talk about Anthony Joshua, Oleksandr Usyk, Tyson Fury and Dillian Whyte. Rumours of a step aside offer for Joshua are exaggerated.”
“His focus has always been on rematching Usyk. If there was a conversation to be had we’d have it, but the announcement from the WBC makes that virtually impossible.”
“Dillian is now Fury’s mandatory, it’s been a long time coming. We await official confirmation of the split for that fight, but it’s almost nailed on we will see Fury v Whyte in the Spring of 2022.”
AJ fans will likely be relieved that he will not be putting a cash influx over his ambitions as a boxer. His reputation has already taken a considerable knock, standing aside would only make that worse.
He ought to focus all his energy on training for the rematch and ensuring the mistakes he made in the first fight are rectified. He cannot go in there and try to outbox Usyk – he needs to use his power, height and reach advantages more effectively.