Anthony Joshua’s rebuild plan was to have three or four fights to gain momentum for another crack at a world heavyweight title.
He’s happy to take a short cut.
An all-British fight with WBC champion Tyson Fury could be back on the cards after Joshua beat Jermaine Franklin on points on Saturday in an unconvincing comeback fight following successive damaging losses to Oleksandr Usyk.
Well, Joshua hopes so, anyway.
“It’s 100% Tyson Fury,” Joshua said in the bowels of London’s O2 Arena early Sunday about who he wanted to fight next.
“That’s the pot of gold. The WBC heavyweight champion of the world — that’s what it’s all about. Definitely Tyson Fury.”
Fury might have something to say about that, though he is yet to respond to being called out by Joshua.
And arranging a so-called “Battle of Britain” won’t be easy. A look at the two fighters’ previous attempts at negotiations point to that.
In 2020, after some unseemly back-and-forth over social media, a Joshua-Fury fight to crown the winner the undisputed heavyweight champion was virtually agreed to take place in Saudi Arabia, only for an arbitrator in the United States to rule that Fury was contractually bound to complete a trilogy with Deontay Wilder.
Fury and Joshua also appeared close to reaching agreement on a fight late in 2022 but Joshua didn’t meet a deadline imposed by Fury and the whole thing collapsed, with Fury instead fighting Derek Chisora.
Joshua, a former two-time world champion, is realistic enough to recognize a third attempt at negotiations won’t be easy, especially seeing how a proposed Fury-Usyk fight collapsed recently, too.
However, Joshua said it’s one “the boxing world needs," even if it would be diverging from a loose plan — set by Joshua and promoter Eddie Hearn after the second loss to Usyk — that would see Joshua fighting some lower-ranking opponents as part of a rebuild that is now being undertaken by a new coach, Dallas-based Derrick James.
“That would be ideal,” Joshua said of another interim fight similar to the one against Franklin. “But sometimes an opportunity presents itself and you have to grab it with both hands. In that sense, if the opportunity presents itself and the coach, the team, were, like, ‘Yeah,’ then I’ll take that opportunity.”
Joshua is no longer the knockout king he was when coming through the pro ranks after winning Olympic gold in 2012, and he said he chose to box smart instead of going for broke against Franklin — even if many were hoping for a more explosive finish to the fight.
Joshua thinks it showed a growing maturity and ring craft, which he lacked a few years ago even when winning.
“Against (Wladimir) Klitschko (in 2017), we went in for the kill in Round 5 and the only reason he managed to survive until the 11th was because I gassed," he said.
“Then we fast-forward to the (Kubrat) Pulev fight (in 2020) where I thought I was so close to taking him out that I threw about 200 punches in a round but he survived. Then I realized, I’ve got to get back to my boxing, be clever. Experience is the best teacher.”
Steve Douglas is at https://twitter.com/sdouglas80
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