Before Tyson Fury signed a contract for his trilogy against Deontay Wilder, “The Gypsy King” was just days removed from promoting a planned showdown against Anthony Joshua.
The British heavyweights have been on a collision course for several years but the fight had never been closer to reality only for Wilder to exercise his rematch clause to book the rematch with Fury.
In the wake of Fury moving onto the fight with Wilder this weekend, Joshua ended up in a mandatory title defense against Oleksandr Usyk, an undefeated Ukrainian best known as a cruiserweight who had bumped up to heavyweight for his last couple of bouts.
Over the course of 12 rounds, Usyk put on a boxing clinic as he put Joshua on his heels several times during the fight while also rocking the former Olympic gold medalist despite giving up a lot of size and power in the fight. Joshua ultimately lost a unanimous decision to Usyk but it also cost him the chance to then move onto face Fury in his next fight.
“It was a little bit of an anti-climax to be honest,” Fury said while appearing on The MMA Hour. “Because I’ve seen it happen time and time again with all these big rivalries, it never ends up happening. But I can only concentrate on doing my end of the deal. I’ve got a much harder task, in my opinion, than Joshua had.
“Joshua was messing with some cruiserweight, who was going to beat him on points if he lost. I’m messing with a man who can end you at any time of the day, any time in the round with either hand. So my task is much more dangerous but I’m much more capable, so I welcome it. It is a disappointment to see that Joshua lost his fight but you’ve got to give all credit to the other guy cause it was a great game plan, he executed it perfectly.”
While Joshua has long been touted as the future of the heavyweight division, Fury believes Usyk deserves all the praise in the world for putting on a lights-out performance to earn the victory.
“A guy coming up from a lower division and beating him is a rarity,” Fury said. “It’s only the third time it’s happened before. You’ve got to give credit where credit’s due. All of these people were like ‘OK, this guy’s a cruiserweight, he’ll get smashed’ whatever. He did what he had to do.
“The much bigger guy, stronger, more muscular, you know all the things people look for aesthetically, look better. But he managed to upset [Joshua] and that’s his business. Congratulations.”
Taking nothing away from Usyk’s win, Fury believes that Joshua ultimately cost himself in the fight by looking ahead at what could be next.
That’s a cardinal mistake that Fury promises won’t happen to him because as much as he wanted to clash with Joshua, he knows none of that matters if he doesn’t get through Wilder again.
“This is what happens when you look ahead to bigger fights,” Fury said. “Joshua was probably looking at Usyk and thinking of Tyson Fury. But I won’t make that mistake. I won’t look at Deontay Wilder and think of Anthony Joshua or even if he won, I wouldn’t have.
“Because I know that every opponent is dangerous, especially at this level. Because it seems to me that I could pick a bum out and he’d fight the best he ever fought because it’s opportunity to change his life. So Wilder’s got a lot to prove. He’s got a lot of demons of his own. He’s got a lot of admittance to do. A lot of things he’s got to accept in his life before he can even move on from it. But he’ll be dangerous while it lasts. That’s for sure.”
If Fury wins on Saturday night, it’s not clear who his next challenger would be but Joshua is likely headed for an automatic rematch against Usyk at some point in 2022. In other words, chances are the highly anticipated fight between Fury and Joshua won’t be happening anytime soon, if ever.