WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury 30-0-1 (21) has challenged unified heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua 23-1 (21) to ditch his WBO strap rather than face former undisputed cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk 17-0 (13) in a mandatory title defence.
Joshua, 30, is set to defend his WBA, WBO and IBF titles against Kubrat Pulev 28-1 (14) at London’s O2 Arena on December 12. The 39-year-old Bulgarian is the IBF mandatory challenger.
Usyk is next in line to face Joshua with the Ukrainian southpaw’s camp telling the media they are not prepared to step aside to allow Joshua to face Fury in a mooted two-fight series in 2021.
Fury, 32, has his own hurdle ahead of him before the Joshua fight can take place. He is contractually obliged to give Deontay Wilder 42-1-1 (41) an immediate rematch following his seventh-round knockout of the former WBC champion in February this year.
That fight was itself a rematch of their 12-round split decision draw in Los Angeles in December 2018.
The self-styled ‘Gypsy King’ offered some free and frank advice to Joshua, who suffered a shock seventh-round knockout loss to late replacement Andy Ruiz Jr 33-2 (22) in New York in June last year before reversing the result with a clear-cut 12-round unanimous decision win in Saudi Arabia last December.
“Rather than fight all these mandatories he’s got, I’d say just vacate those belts and fight the fight everyone wants to see,” Fury told Behind the Gloves.
“I ain’t running from you, I don’t care about you. I’ll go through you like a knife through butter.
“Come and fight the big boy, step up to the plate and get knocked out.
“Then fight all those easy guys. No disrespect to Oleksandr Usyk – great fighter, cruiserweight world champion, probably going to be heavyweight champion if he fights Anthony Joshua – but don’t take my retirement cheque, baby.
“Don’t do it. I said to Deontay Wilder years ago, ‘Do not take my retirement fund, do not fight Joshua, He’s mine. He’s mine countryman, I’m having him, I’m breaking him in!’
“But it didn’t happen. He got broke in by an unlikely suspect. It was what it was.”
Fury doesn’t believe the Joshua-Usyk fight will happen and urged his fellow Brit to pursue the biggest fight in the division.
“If they fight, but I bet they don’t,” Fury said. “Because why would he fight Usyk and get 10 per cent of what he can make off the Gypsy King?
“Vacate it, let them boys fight for the vacate belt, whoever it is, Usyk and (Joseph) Parker. We’re at the top of the game.
“We’re in this boxing to fight the biggest fights out there.
“It’s a boxing match, what’s the worse that can happen? You can lose? Big deal.”
Joshua claimed the IBF belt against Charles Martin in 2016 and made two title defences before lifting the WBA strap from Wladimir Klitschko one year later.
He lifted the WBO championship from Joseph Parker in Cardiff, Wales in March 2018 and knocked out Russian veteran Alexander Povetkin six months later before his back-to-back fights against Ruiz Jr.
The proposed fight between Joshua and Fury remains the biggest fight available in heavyweight boxing.