Former two-time heavyweight champion, Anthony Joshua, has said that he expects Oleksandr Usyk to edge the encounter when he faces Tyson Fury on February 17.
Joshua plans to be ringside when Fury and Usyk fight for the undisputed heavyweight championship in Saudi Arabia.
Joshua, who was relieved of his WBA, WBO and IBF belts by Usyk in September 2021 and then lost the rematch 11 months later, expects the Ukrainian world champion to see off WBC champion, Fury and become the first undisputed champion in the four-belt era.
“I really want to be here (in Saudi Arabia) for that fight,” Joshua told Boxing Social.
“I don’t know. I’ve fought Usyk, I think he’s a phenomenal fighter and he’s got a great team around him. Honestly and you’re only as good as your team and I think he’s got a really good team around him.
“After being in the ring and studying him and still studying him now, I think that he’s the one to edge it, probably because I’ve experienced his ring generalship and ring craft on two occasions and I think he’s top tier.”
The British-Nigerian secured his third win of 2023 when he forced Otto Wallin to retire at the end of the fifth round in December.
The 34-year-old had signed to fight Deontay Wilder, but that long-awaited showdown was scuppered after ‘The Bronze Bomber’ lost to Joseph Parker on the same card.
Promoter Eddie Hearn has named three potential opponents for Joshua, who is expected to return to action in March.
Several names are being discussed for the British star’s next fight in Saudi. Some of the options include unbeaten contender Filip Hrgovic, MMA veteran Francis Ngannou, and Chinese giant Zhilei Zhang.
“Right now, we have three fights that were in discussions for they’re all big,” Hearn told IFL TV. “And that doesn’t involve Deontay Wilder. Before March our aim, and we’ve discussed this, is to fight the winner of Fury versus Usyk. That is all we want to do.
“Obviously there’s a Hrgovic fight out there for the world heavyweight title; there’s a Francis Ngannou fight out there which would be absolutely colossal. There’s other heavyweights as well, the Zhang fight possibly as well with Queensbury.”
Hrgovic is viewed by many as the frontrunner to face Joshua, while Oleksandr Usyk and WBC champion Tyson Fury are scheduled to collide in an undisputed fight February 17 in Saudi Arabia.
The IBF title is expected to become vacant after the first Fury-Usyk encounter and Hrgovic is the IBF’s mandatory challenger. A fight between him and Joshua for the vacant IBF belt has emerged.