Is Anthony Joshua Dropping WBO Title To Sidestep Oleksandr Usyk?

Is it a purse bid or vacate time for Anthony Joshua?

Unified heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua, Oleksandr Usyk
Anthony Joshua (left), Oleksandr Usyk

Is it a purse bid or vacate time for Anthony Joshua?

There is no doubt that the last few months have been turbulent for WBA Super, WBO and IBF World Heavyweight champion Anthony “AJ” Joshua (24-1, 22 KO’s). After an extremely drawn out and dramatic negotiation process, he was on the verge of a historic super-fight. If the bout was seen through to fruition, Joshua would have fought WBC Heavyweight champion Tyson “Gypsy King” Fury for undisputed status. Not only that, the fight would have been the first time that two UK fighters fought for that distinction in the division. Also, both guys would have made at least $75 million apiece, making it the largest payday in boxing history.

Then, within 24 hours of its announcement, the whole fight blew up in their faces. The only reason that the Joshua versus Fury bout was being negotiated is because both teams chose to ignore the arbitration trial that Fury was in. After winning his second fight with Deontay Wilder, the Gypsy King opted to walk away from his rematch for the trilogy. Unwilling to go down without a fight, Wilder initiated an arbitration clause in their contract and ultimately won. As a result, Fury was obligated to face Wilder next and therefore the Joshua bout was dead in the water.


With Fury no longer in the picture, AJ was left without a dance partner… but not for long. Once it was clear that the all-UK super-fight was kaput, the WBO wasted little time stepping in. Throughout the whole haggling process to make the Gypsy King bout, they were playing nice. The sanctioning body had long since ordered AJ versus mandatory challenger Oleksandr Usyk (18-0, 13 KO’s). They backed off for the sake of the bigger event, yet with Fury out of the picture, they wanted their mandated fight honored. If the two teams, Usyk and Joshua, could not come to an agreement, the bout was to be sent to purse bid.

For a number of years, AJ has maintained that it was his desire to become undisputed, and now he is only one belt away; potentially two fights away. First his defense with Usyk, then the winner of the Fury vs Wilder trilogy. Oddly enough however, his promoter Eddie Hearn will not stop suggesting that Joshua is seconds away from dropping the WBO title. Not much has been heard from AJ on the subject but Hearn is very vocal.

“We’ll either make a deal or we’ll vacate. I mean, we won’t be going to purse bids or anything like that, and mucking around. By the way, I don’t blame the WBO. They were actually quite generous to us with our time. I mean, let’s be honest – it dragged on a lot, didn’t it? So, I have to take my hat off to [WBO president] Paco Valcarcel, because he did put himself, his neck on the line, to allow that fight, when Usyk had a strong case for it not to be allowed.”


We have now gone past the ten days that the WBO granted to negotiate the fight. Despite this, there has been no word that an agreement was reached. There has also been no announcement that the bout was going to purse bid. So, what’s up? Are they going to go to the purse bid or is AJ going to relinquish the belt? At this point though, it would be completely chuckleheaded to give up the title.

As previously noted, AJ is theoretically only two fights away from achieving his dream, so why quit now? And if he drops the belt, who is he going to fight? Without question, he would not fight a champion, so what would be the point? To stay busy? None of that would make any sense. It also makes very little sense why Eddie Hearn is so hell bent on publicly stating that AJ is so close to giving up his WBO title. In the end though, this is exactly why it would be nice to get a formal update on this lingering situation! Let’s just hope that it comes sooner rather than later.

By: Bakari Simpson

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Bakari is a Senior Writer for Visit to view more of his literary work.