Londoner says he is ‘serious’ about facing rival as talks begin
Anthony Joshua gave the clearest indication yet on Tuesday that he was ready to fight Tyson Fury for the undisputed world heavyweight title next year.
He said Fury was his “pure focus”, conversations were happening to make the fight and that substantial offers would be made.
Joshua spoke publicly for the first time since retaining his International Boxing Federation, World Boxing Association and World Boxing Organisation belts against Bulgarian Kubrat Pulev earlier this month.
The 31-year-old also addressed necessary support for grass-roots boxing in the UK, to which he has made a donation, and urged the Government to reconsider grants to the lifeblood of the sport.
Joshua said: “I’m serious about the fight, so when I announce it you’ll know it’s real. That’s why I’m taking my time – because there has been a lot of back and forth for years. I’ve been chasing this route to ‘undisputed’ and when the time is right I’ll announce it and I’ll have my mind fully focused on the job at hand.”
Joshua revealed: “258 Management [his management company] are reaching out to MTK Global and Frank Warren, Tyson Fury’s management team, so we can start having conversations about the logistics and exactly what it will take to make this fight happen.”
Eddie Hearn has also been in talks with Bob Arum, Fury’s US promoter.
“But I promise you the road to undisputed is something I’m keen on,” added Joshua, who took a Zoom call from his former amateur boxing club in Finchley. “It was Deontay Wilder that was my focus and he admitted we gave him lucrative offers that he turned down. Now it’s Tyson Fury and that’s my pure focus. The offers will be made, substantial offers.
“I want to just get in there and fight. I want to be known as someone who is a true warrior to this sport. How close are we? I promise you conversations are happening. We’re definitely looking at the landscape. But until you hear it from me, don’t buy into anything.
“We’ve done business with world champions before. It’s no different with Fury, he should take this fight with both hands. It’s a split down the middle, there’s no one benefiting apart from the fans at the end of the day. I believe I’ll win. I just want to fight. I’m not about talking and creating false narratives – people know I asked Wilder to fight me last year. That’s facts.
“I promise you this: I will put in a serious offer to fight Tyson Fury and if he’s serious himself, he will take it. If he’s not, I will fight [WBO mandatory challenger Oleksandr] Usyk and leave it there.”
Joshua added that if belts needed to be relinquished for the Fury fight to go ahead, it was a consideration.
“The belts do make it special, but I feel like the cries from the public are just for me to fight Tyson Fury. I will do. Either way, I am just doing my next couple of fights next year on what the public wants me to do.”
Joshua believes the biggest fight the UK will have seen – which is being discussed for May or June and could take place in the Middle East or the UK, with Hearn believing both fighters could earn about £100 million each – should also leverage government interest on a wider scale.
“The Tyson Fury fight is a fight between two heavyweights, as big an event as the World Cup final [in 1966], and with what is happening in this current climate, it is powerful.
“But on a bigger scale, it is two guys who have come through grassroots sports and the system and are now putting on one of the biggest fights in British history that could boost the economy. We are doing it independently.
“The Government has done a great job so far, but I definitely want to raise eyebrows, and get the attention of some of the people in power, so that next time some of these funds go to boxing.”
On his own donations, the Olympic gold medallist added: “I’m doing this to raise awareness [to the Government] that there are other sports as well that need it. And something that is close to me is boxing. I know the importance of boxing in the community. I know the importance of boxing for the nation. I know the importance of boxing for the economy. I know the importance of boxing for so many other reasons.
“I like to do a lot of things that help different causes and towards the end of the year I feel this is a natural cause and so I got in touch with Rob McCracken [his trainer] about it. It’s to support the federations of English boxing, Scottish boxing, Welsh boxing who, when we donate this money to these federations, they can distribute to grass-roots [clubs] that need it.”