Anthony Joshua has warned promoter Eddie Hearn not to come to him with a step aside offer for his fight with Oleksandr Usyk unless it’s too good to turn down.
The two-time heavyweight champion is due to face Usyk for a second time having lost his titles to him in London earlier this year.
And while talks are ongoing about staging the fight next April, Joshua recently stoked talks of stepping aside, to allow Usyk to unify the division with Tyson Fury instead.
However, the Brit has told Hearn not to even approach him with an offer unless it is something that could be very beneficial to him in the long run.
“We’ve had some approaches about this,” Hearn told the DAZN Boxing Show. “No real deep conversations but just in regards to the concept, the concept being ‘you let Fury and Usyk fight for the undisputed and then fight the winner’. “Yesterday, Anthony said to me ‘just to sort of warn you, a step aside is against everything I believe in’.”
Joshua almost immediately triggered his rematch clause with Usyk after being comprehensively beaten for the unified titles at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in September.
And he flew out to America to meet with potential new trainers, although he insists that he would like to remain working with head coach Rob McCracken if the right plan can come together.
But in a recent interview with iFL TV, he admitted that a very tempting deal to step aside, that would benefit his career, may see him allow Usyk vs Fury to happen. “All he wants to do is fight Oleksandr Usyk, and he trusts me,” Hearn continued.
“If some kind of plan comes up that is a great financial package and more importantly gives him more time to gel with a new trainer and then go into a massive fight for huge money later in the year and I think that’s right for his career then I should let him know. “But he said ‘let me warn you, when you do that, you’re under threat yourself because I don’t want to do it’.”
Fury’s promoters appear to be split on the idea, with Frank Warren saying that talks are underway, while Bob Arum believes that it’s logistically impossible.
Arum argues that with Dillian Whyte as a long-time mandatory challenger to Fury’s WBC belt, there’s no way they could guarantee Joshua to be the first challenger to the undisputed title. “I think Dillian Whyte should be the next fight for Tyson Fury,” Arum told talkSPORT last week.
“There’s talk about Usyk who beat Joshua – Joshua has a rematch clause – and talk about Joshua stepping aside. “But Joshua’s not going to step aside unless he’s guaranteed the winner of Fury vs Usyk, and how anybody assure him of that when Whyte’s in the mandatory position? “So the way I think it’s going to fall out is Fury vs Whyte and I think [we should do] that fight in the United Kingdom.”