Bitter rivals Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder both hope to face Anthony Joshua after their trilogy clash in Las Vegas next month, but have differing views on the threat level posed by AJ’s next opponent Oleksandr Usyk.
With a super-fight against Fury off the table following the arbitration ruling that enforced a contracted third meeting between the WBC heavyweight champion and American Wilder, unified champion Joshua has moved on to a WBO mandatory bout against Ukrainian maestro Usyk in September.
The skilful Usyk, a former undisputed champ at cruiserweight and elite amateur, appears to pose a significant hazard to Joshua though that is another issue long-time antagonists Fury and Wilder disagree upon.
Fury believes Joshua simply walks through the smaller Usyk and the Ukrainian presents a minimal threat. “Usyk lost to Dereck Chisora in my opinion, and Derek is 10 years past his best. No threat,” the ‘Gypsy King’ told Sky Sports. “He’s a cruiserweight who would be knocked out by Wilder in one round.”
The ‘Bronze Bomber’ is warier of Usyk, who is widely regarded as one of the pound-for-pound best in the sport. “Everyone is a threat until proven otherwise. Every fight is dangerous – you never know what night a person will have,” Wilder told Sky Sports.
Wilder’s trainer Malik Scott went further when discussing the problems posed by the uber-slick Usyk.
“Usyk is a dangerous fight for anybody, not just Joshua,” Scott told Sky Sports. “You have to commend Joshua for taking him on. Usyk is not a guy everybody is trying to fight – he is a guy that people would prefer not to fight.
“Usyk is learning on the job against the most dangerous guys. He didn’t go on a seven-fight plan. This is his third fight at heavyweight. That’s a big climb. It will be interesting how Usyk responds to Joshua’s size and technicalities, and how Joshua responds to Usyk’s speed as a southpaw.”