Ever since losing his WBA, WBO and IBF titles to Oleksandr Usyk, Anthony Joshua has been under the spotlight when it comes to discussions about his future.
But following rumours of a new corner team for a rematch against Usyk next year, there is now a chance this fight may not happen.
In a recent interview with IFL TV, Joshua alluded to the fact that his team have been offered a step-aside fee to allow WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury to face Usyk in an undisputed title fight.
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“Step aside in terms of, I don't know if that goes in line with what I morally stand for. But let me be real, I want to be known as one of the smartest businessmen as well," Joshua said.
“I used to watch Tyson, Holyfield, Bowe, we all know the stories of NFL players, basketball players, they make bad decisions. I wanted to make sure I make the smart moves when it comes to this business. If the money is right, you have to look at it.
"You have to look at it. But respect to me has a lot more value than money. Respect first, what I'm known for when I leave this division, then being the smartest businessman in my career.
"That step aside thing, it may not go with what I stand for in terms of bringing me respect, fighting the best, but it may make sense for business."
While some may be disappointed that Joshua won’t be able to immediately redeem himself against the Ukrainian, not fighting Usyk would benefit Joshua in the long term.
The loss to Usyk three months ago was Joshua’s second in four fights. That record for someone who wants to dominate the heavyweight landscape for years to come is simply not good enough.
The shock loss to Andy Ruiz Jr at Madison Square Garden in June 2019 was a reality check for Joshua and it seemed to have worked. The rematch the following December saw the Olympic gold medallist rely on his boxing ability instead of going toe-to-toe with the Mexican and as a result got his belts back after a comprehensive points victory.
COVID-19 brought the boxing world to a halt a few months later, but luckily the two-time world heavyweight champion managed to get a knockout win against mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev at the end of 2020.
Chaos followed for Joshua with a Fury fight set to take place last Summer before a court ordered the WBC champion to take on Deontay Wilder for a third time.
Who would he face next?
Eager to keep his belts, Joshua decided to face WBO mandatory and former undisputed cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk. On that September night at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, Joshua was given a boxing lesson by his opponent and suffered the second loss of his professional career.
A rematch between the two is set to take place early next year, but while Usyk is enjoying the spoils of victory, Joshua is in a state of confusion. Pictured around various gyms across the US in the last few months, many fans believed the Brit was in search of a new head trainer, but then in another interview with IFL TV, Joshua gave a vague response when asked about the situation surrounding his corner team.
It’s clear that the Usyk defeat has sent Joshua and his team’s heads spinning. All this uncertainty surrounding the 32-year-old’s training camp is not ideal preparation ahead of a skilled operator such as Usyk. Everything needs to be on point if anyone has any chance of beating one of the sport’s most mysterious characters.
Therefore, stepping aside to let Fury and Usyk go head-to-head for the undisputed title would benefit Joshua. It will give him time to properly re-assess and make changes where necessary instead of rushing into another career defining contest.
Joshua can have a warmup fight if he chooses to with his new team, if he does make changes to the camp, and then face the winner of Fury vs Usyk in a fight which will have plenty of storylines. Revenge against Uysk, or the Battle of Britiain with Fury.
While waiting around maybe the best decision for Joshua, it’s something in the business of boxing he cannot afford to do. Promoter Eddie Hearn has previously said Joshua can’t have ‘easy’ fights due to his standing in the sport and has to take on the best of the best.
On this occasion however, Joshua needs to put his career and himself first, and step aside. Then he can make the changes he needs to make within his team and once happy continue on his road to undisputed.