Anthony Joshua wishes both Evander Holyfield and Tyson Fury good luck as he prepares for Oleksandr Usyk showdown

Anthony Joshua responds to Fury, discusses Holyfield’s comeback and recognises threat from Usyk

BRACE yourselves for another story about Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury wanting to fight each other but not actually fighting each other. Days after Tyson Fury indicated he would like to fight Anthony Joshua twice next year, the latter agreed when it was his turn to face the British press on Friday (September 10).

“Finally, finally! Another one for the résumé,” AJ chuckled as Fury’s name was inevitably dropped into a media meeting designed to promote Joshua’s September 25 bout with Oleksandr Usyk. “Let’s get it on! What an honour it would be to fight Tyson, get another great fighter on my record, beat him, and then we would move forward.”

Anthony Joshua didn’t specify what he meant by moving forward, but it might simply be not having to talk about Tyson Fury anymore. Joshua, as ever, was happy to chuck out the soundbites but one suspects he’s growing tired of answering questions about men he’s not actually fighting while training for those that he is. Before Fury there was constant chatter about Deontay Wilder, the man that Fury (while answering questions about Joshua) is preparing to fight for a third time.

One hopes we all get there in the end.

For now, there’s a long way to go. While Fury-Wilder III has the potential for excitement, Joshua-Usyk has the potential to end all this Joshua-Fury talk once and for all. In short, the former cruiserweight king is second only to Wladimir Klitschko as the most accomplished opponent on Joshua’s entire record.

That record has come under plenty of scrutiny. What it lacks, namely Fury and Wilder, has unfairly overshadowed what it actually includes. At risk of stealing a tune from Eddie Hearn’s songbook, Joshua’s record has more victories over world class fighters than any other active heavyweight. One can point to Fury beating Wilder and Wladimir Klitschko as superior results, but Joshua defeating Dillian Whyte, Charles Martin, Dominic Breazeale, Wladimir Klitschko, Carlos Takam, Joseph Parker, Alexander Povetkin, Andy Ruiz Jnr, Kubrat Pulev and Usyk would be an exceptional body of work in the current era.

“Even though it’s not Fury, it’s still a great fight,” Joshua said of Usyk. “Even though it’s annoying [the Fury fight fell through], I’m glad I can still take on an opponent who makes me want to get up in the morning because I want to improve and get better.

“There’s a lot of talk about size, a good big guy beats a good little guy. If that’s the case why I am getting up in the morning to train? Why I am sitting in ice baths? Why I am doing this?

“Why I am passionate about it? Because I’m fighting a good guy. The guys [my management and promotional teams] have done a great job, even though the Fury fight fell through. We’re still taking a good fight and I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

What isn’t a good fight is this weekend’s car crash between 58-year-old Evander Holyfield and Vitor Belfort. The contest will be sanctioned by the Florida Athletic Commission as a professional fight despite Holyfield being rejected a licence in California after he stepped in to face Belfort following 48-year-old Oscar De La Hoya’s withdrawal.

Joshua, a fellow fighter, sees no problem with it.

“It’s phenomenal,” he said when asked about Holyfield’s return. “That generation – Hearns, Duran, Holyfield, Bowe – they’re a different breed. He’s fighting at 58, it’s been commissioned so good luck to him.

“Sometimes we have to support people for who they are. We all have opinions but we have to pat him on the back and say go for it. A man on a mission is a man who can’t be stopped.”

Holyfield won universal recognition as the one and only heavyweight king way back in 1990 when he trounced Buster Douglas. Joshua hopes he too can one day make such a claim.

“Good luck to Tyson,” Joshua said. “Whenever he’s ready, we’ll be here waiting.”