If Anthony Joshua loses to Oleksandr Usyk for a second time in mid-August, his options will be limited in terms of career trajectory. The consensus belief is that a win against Usyk will set up the long-awaited all-British showdown with Tyson Fury for the undisputed crown.
Fury has not been given a deadline to vacate his WBC heavyweight title and seems content to wait on the outcome of the Usyk vs Joshua rematch. Should Joshua lose, however, there are still some decent fights that could lead to big paydays for AJ.
Back in 2018, this fight seemed like a foregone conclusion with both men holding all four belts, but negotiations for the then undisputed title fight fell through. Providing AJ loses to Usyk the bout will likely be a non-title fight unless Fury vacates the WBC strap, yet there is still a lot to like about this one.
Joshua and Wilder are considered two of the biggest punchers in the sport with 63 knockout wins combined from 71 fights, so there is guaranteed carnage if these two collide. Add to that, the back and forth between the pair over the years and you have yourself an entertaining build-up and fight. Weighing in on the match-up earlier this year, Tyson Fury tweeted: ‘I’d say Deontay Wilder would KO the bum inside 3 rounds.’
Andy Ruiz Jr
Andy Ruiz Jr and Joshua’s first fight was an all-time classic and one of the biggest upsets of 2019 as the Mexican knocked out AJ in the seventh round to claim all his belts. The second clash, however, was far less exciting. Joshua won on points, circling around the ring in a disciplined display that could only really be appreciated by purists of the sport.
But with the score set at 1-1 between them, a rubber match is a potentially lucrative fight for all parties involved. A lot was made of Ruiz Jr’s inability to close range in their last outing but the 15lbs of extra timber likely played its part in the rematch. If a disciplined Ruiz Jr comes to fight in the decider it is unlikely they won’t produce fireworks again.
Although a loss to Usyk would certainly dampen spirits about the future of the Fury vs Joshua fight, there is still considerable interest in how it would play out. Last summer Eddie Hearn told fans that the fight was a ‘done deal’. However, a rematch clause with Deontay Wilder triggered the third fight for Fury instead.
Joshua then went on to lose to Usyk in September as Fury told BBC Sport that he was “absolutely wounded” by the result. Despite insistence from many around the boxing world that Fury will only face Joshua for all the belts, the potentially colossal payday may tempt Fury to reconsider.