There’s been a couple of recent rumors that Anthony Joshua has at least been considering an alternative opponent to Oleksandr Usyk, despite him activating the rematch clause from their first fight when Usyk relieved Joshua of his heavyweight straps. According to Usyk’s promoter Alexander Krassyuk, who spoke to Sky Sports, Usyk is ready and willing to go straight into an undisputed title clash with Tyson Fury should Joshua accept a step-aside.
“The talks on AJ’s step aside have been around since Fury KO’d Wilder. I heard that Joshua could consider stepping aside if the money is right as he feels respect to the division and is willing to let the undisputed heavyweight championship happen.”
No one from Joshua’s team would confirm that Joshua might actually be looking to pave way for a Fury-Usyk bout, but the rumor has spread at least far enough that some other heavyweights are dropping their names in a hat to face Joshua instead — including Chinese heavyweight Zhilei Zhang. Zhang’s adviser Terry Lane says there’s certainly interest from their side.
“We heard some chatter regarding AJ [needing a new opponent] which we are open to,” Zhang’s adviser Terry Lane told Sky Sports. “There are rumours that, if he does, then perhaps a fight in China against Zhang would be of interest. We have not discussed this with [Joshua’s promoters] Matchroom.”
Of course as things currently stand Joshua is entitled to face Usyk for a second time in a chance to reclaim his world titles, but with Joshua recently touring the United States for a new trainer perhaps there’s some understanding that he could use some more time to hone his skills before jumping right back in with such an impeccable boxer as Usyk. It’s hard to see a proud fighter like Joshua willingly walk away from a chance to back his titles, but sometimes discretion is the better part of valor. We’ll see how this all plays out going forward.