Anthony Joshua prepared to move on to Oleksandr Usyk

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Anthony Joshua and his team remain hopeful that he’ll fight Tyson Fury on Aug. 14 but they already are making plans to fight someone else this summer, most likely Oleksandr Usyk.

A deal was in place for Fury and Joshua to fight for the undisputed heavyweight championship on that date in Saudi Arabia. However, an arbitrator ruled on Monday that a rematch clause in the contract for Fury’s fight with Deontay Wilder last year is binding.

In the wake of that news, Bob Arum, Fury’s co-promoter, said his client will face Wilder a third time rather than pay the American to step aside so Fury-Joshua could go forward.

Fury and Joshua could then meet in December, assuming Fury beats Wilder and Joshua doesn’t lose an interim fight.

Eddie Hearn, Joshua’s promoter, held a news conference Tuesday morning in the U.K. to address the situation.

“We’re here, we’re breathing,” he said. “[Joshua is] still the champion. We know what we want to do. We want to win the undisputed heavyweight championship, we want to fight Tyson Fury. But, really, if his hands are tied, we have to look elsewhere.

“I have been focusing on Plan A,” he said. “The only fight we had our mind on was Tyson Fury. I hope it will still take place on Aug. 14 but the game changed last night and we have to have a Plan B in place, and probably a Plan C as well.”

Plan B could be Usyk, the mandatory challenger to Joshua’s WBO title.

The sanctioning body had agreed to postpone enforcement of the mandatory defense so Fury-Joshua could take place but, in light of Monday’s news, a door seems to be open for Usyk to get his title shot immediately.

Hearn said he hopes Joshua can maintain his three belts so he and Joshua can still fight for all four major titles late this year if Fury ends up defending his WBC belt against Wilder in his next fight.

Arum said he has reserved Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas on July 24, the presumed target site and date for Fury-Wilder III.

“We have a couple of different options,” Hearn said. “Of course, the one that springs to mind immediately is the WBO mandatory of Oleksandr Usyk. They’ve been quiet patient and I think, really, we’re in a situation now that if Team Fury don’t’ get themselves together, don’t’ get their act together by the end of this week, we will have no option but to look for an alternative fight.

“AJ wants to fight this summer. Oleksandr Usyk is the mandatory.”

Hearn said he spoke with Usyk’s promoter Alexander Krassyuk on Tuesday morning.

“I just sort of said to him, and I was very honest, I said, ‘Look, Team Fury are trying to resolve the issue. If they don’t, there’s a very good chance we could be fighting you,” Hearn said.

Krassyuk spoke to Sky Sports on Tuesday.

“There is no other reasonable excuse for AJ now,” he told the outlet. “If he is not avoiding Usyk, it is high time to face the mandatory. Two London Olympic champions to face each other, nine years later. What a story.

“We are now in the position to make the fight happen as soon as possible.”

One problem: Where do they fight?

“We’re in a situation where we just don’t know how likely it is to get a full venue in August in the U.K.,” Hearn said. “That was one of the reasons it was ruled out for the Fury fight. We couldn’t get confirmation from Wembley [Stadium] and other venues that they would be allowed full capacity [because of COVID-19].

“But we’ll move forward we that and continue to have talks with Alex Krassyuk this week.”

Fury knocked out Wilder in seven rounds in February of last year, the British fighter’s most-recent fight. The two fought to draw in December 2018.

Joshua regained his titles – IBF, WBA and WBO – from Andy Ruiz Jr. by a wide decision in December 2019. He successfully defended them this past December against Kubrat Pulev, who was stopped in nine rounds.

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