Unified heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua 23-1 (21) has reminded WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury 30-0-1 (21) that they both need to avoid “banana skins” in their upcoming fights to keep their four-belt unification bout alive.
The 30-year-old is due to defend his WBA, IBF and WBO titles against Bulgarian Kubrat Pulev 28-1 (14) at London’s O2 Arena on December 12 while Fury owes a third fight to American Deontay Wilder 42-1-1 (41).
Joshua and Fury have agreed to terms for a two-fight series in 2021.
“I listened to an interview the other week and [Fury] said that ‘we need to make the fight and stop messing around’,” Joshua said to Sky Sports.
“But I thought we agreed the fight? Then he said if Dillian Whyte wins he’s going to vacate the belt. I just think he’s got a lot of things going on in his life that he says things that don’t really add up.
“I respect him, I don’t really know him but I respect him as a human. I could continue to talk but the best talking will be done in the ring. It’s the best place to let our gloves do the talking.”
Whyte 27-2 (18) lost his WBC interim title and his claim to a shot at Fury’s full belt when he suffered a shock fifth-round knockout loss to Alexander Povetkin 36-2-1 (25) last month. He is expected to pursue an immediate rematch with the Russian veteran.
Joshua has warned Fury they both have dangerous fights coming up that could derail their proposed undisputed title fight if either of them slip up.
“We’ve got to put them on an equal playing field because if I say ‘I’ve got the bigger test’ or ‘he’s got the bigger test’, you never know what’s going to happen,” Joshua said.
“They’re both banana skin fights. It’s like ‘get past this one then there’s the big one next’, so this one is just as important as the big one.
“When the time’s right we’ll fight. We’re keen but I’ve got Kubrat Pulev first which is a mandatory defence, which I have to do. Once I get past that I’m a free agent.
“I’m going to say we’ll fight next year but everything else that comes with it, I’ve just got to put to the back of my mind and just focus on Kubrat Pulev.
“Once I get past him, hopefully Fury will be the next one in line.”
Former undisputed cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk 17-0 (13) represents another spanner in the works that could prevent the unification bout from happening.
The WBO mandatory contender will be pushing for his shot at Joshua providing he gets past dangerous Dereck Chisora 32-9 (23) later this year. It should be noted that the four major sanctioning bodies typically give precedence to unification fights over mandatory title defences.
“Usyk has been the WBO mandatory challenger for more than one year,” his co-promoter Alexander Krassyuk, who works alongside Eddie Hearn, told Sky Sports.
“He has agreed to let AJ versus Pulev happen, with regards that the winner fights him next. This statement is still solid.
“Our plan is A) beat Derek Chisora B) push AJ to comply with WBO rules or vacate the title C) defeat AJ (or any other WBO champion or contender and become the heavyweight champion. Simple and practical.”