The mega-fight between Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua now seems destined to be for the undisputed heavyweight championship of the world.
The undisputed tag, where all four major versions of the heavyweight championship are at stake, has long been in doubt with the WBO’s No.1 contender Oleksandr Usyk pushing for his mandatory shot, having already stepped aside for Joshua’s Covid-19 delayed bout with IBF No.1 Kubrat Pulev last December.
According to Jake Donovan of BoxingScene, an agreement has now been reached where Usyk will next face Putney’s Joe Joyce for the WBO ‘Interim’ heavyweight crown, a bout currently under negotiation, allowing the Fury-Joshua clash to take place for all the titles.
But there’s a catch. The winner of Fury-Joshua must face the Usyk-Joyce winner within 180 days of that ‘Interim’ bout taking place or forfeit the full WBO crown. Losing the WBO belt after their first meeting would seem likely with WBC king Fury and WBA Super, WBO and IBF title-holder Joshua already agreeing a two-fight series in principle last year.
Should the Fury-Joshua winner decline an immediate defence against Usyk or Joyce, the winner of the ‘Interim’ bout will be declared the WBO’s new heavyweight champion. If for any reason the Fury-Joshua contest does not take place in time, ‘AJ’ must face the Usyk-Joyce winner next or lose that WBO crown outside of the ring.
Former WBC champion Deontay Wilder is still pushing for his previously contracted trilogy fight with Fury, but that seems unlikely to derail Fury-Joshua’s undisputed tag. Fury’s US promoter Bob Arum has insisted that contract has elapsed whilst Wilder, trounced in seven rounds by the ‘Gypsy King’ in February 2020, sought a legal route to pursue his claim.
As it stands, Fury-Joshua would be the first heavyweight title clash in history with all four major belts and the mythical ‘lineal’ crown at stake. A final announcement is expected in the coming weeks with the Middle East the likely locale for the showdown between the British heavyweight behemoths.