Anthony Joshua is not looking past IBF mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev and believes rival WBC champion Tyson Fury should feel just the same about his contracted trilogy fight with Deontay Wilder.
WBA Super, WBO and IBF champion Joshua is tentatively scheduled to face Bulgarian Pulev on December 12 with Fury-Wilder III pencilled in one week later on December 19.
The British heavyweights are seeking to unify all four world crowns with a two-fight series provisionally agreed and set to start in 2021 – despite WBO No.1 contender Oleksandr Usyk being keen to enforce his title shot.
Mindful of other heavyweight champions’ past mistakes, Joshua is focusing purely on Pulev whilst also hoping Fury fulfils his end of the bargain by defeating former WBC king Wilder again. Both Pulev and Wilder bring threat and should be respected equally, says Joshua.
“We’ve got to put them on an equal playing field because if I say ‘I’ve got the bigger test’ or ‘he’s got the bigger test’, you never know what’s going to happen. They’re both banana skin fights. It’s like ‘Get past this one then there’s the big one next’, so this one is just as important as the big one,” Joshua told PA Sport.
“When the time’s right we’ll fight. We’re keen but I’ve got Kubrat Pulev first which is a mandatory defence, which I have to do. Once I get past that I’m a free agent. I’m going to say we’ll fight next year but everything else that comes with it, I’ve just got to put to the back of my mind and just focus on Kubrat Pulev. Once I get past him, hopefully Fury will be the next one in line.
“I listened to an interview the other week and (Fury) said that, ‘We need to make the fight and stop messing around’. But I thought we agreed the fight? Then he said if Dillian [Whyte] wins he’s going to vacate the belt. I just think he’s got a lot of things going on in his life that he says things that don’t really add up.
“I respect him, I don’t really know him but I respect him as a human. I could continue to talk but the best talking will be done in the ring. It’s the best place to let our gloves do the talking.”