Anthony Joshua ‘completely shut down’ an offer from Tyson Fury’s team to step aside and let the Gypsy King fight Oleksandr Usyk for the undisputed heavyweight championship. ‘AJ’ was beaten comprehensively by Usyk at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in September and relinquished his WBA, WBO and IBF titles to the Ukrainian.
Joshua triggered a rematch clause and is set to return to the ring in the first quarter of 2022 in a bid to regain his belts.
There has been suggestions Joshua could give up the Usyk rematch to enable him to fight Fury, the WBC and Ring Magazine champion, next instead.
Bob Arum, Fury’s co-promoter in the US, also mentioned to talkSPORT a step aside deal had been mooted between the two sides.
But there appears zero prospect of that happening with Fury now in line to face Dillian Whyte after the WBC ordered him as the mandatory challenger.
David KD Ghansa of Joshua’s management team has revealed the conversations about actually stepping aside were succinct, to say the least, with AJ not willing to seriously entertain the prospect of giving up the chance to avenge his rematch defeat to Usyk.
“In complete honesty, me and Eddie have had conversations with Freddie [Cunningham, Joshua’s manager] and a few of the other guys,” Ghansa told talkSPORT.
“The day that we actually slightly put it to him, we got shut down – it was a complete shutdown.
“AJ knows that, as a management team, we are going to explore all options for him. But the main thing is that he is focused on putting right what he needs to.
“As a management team, we are exploring all the best options and we will put them to him. Ultimately it will be his decision, but he has not entertained it the way it is out there as being entertained.
“So personally from him, I don’t even think we finished that conversation on it, so Usyk.”
Such was the dominant display of Usyk against AJ, Joshua’s trainer Rob McCracken came under scrutiny in the aftermath of the defeat in north London.
The 2012 Olympic Gold medallist even sought out the advice of several American coaches earlier this year and refused to deny he would not make changes to his coaching side.
Having become a two-time world champion under McCracken’s tutelage from their base in Sheffield, Joshua may make changes to his team and promoter Eddie Hearn revealed there could well be a restructuring.
“He’s working,” Hearn confirmed. “He’s working behind the scenes and sometimes people take silence as a weakness.
“Sometimes, they are very wrong, so he is building the foundations behind the scenes to make sure he beats Oleksandr in the rematch.
“I do presume there will be some additional faces in the camp, maybe even a new location as well, but that is being built behind the scenes to make sure that his preparation will be perfect in what is a must-win fight.”