Anthony Joshua says he must fight British rival Tyson Fury to prove, both to the world and to himself, how good he really is.
The WBO, WBA and IBF champion takes on former cruiserweight king and now heavyweight contender Oleksandr Usyk on September 25 in what is believed to be a real banana peel that could derail his chances of a historic undisputed showdown with Fury .
The British pair had seemingly struck a deal to settle in the summer, but the much-anticipated match was suspended after a US arbitrator ruled that Fury must complete his trilogy with Deontay Wilder, which he will do on October 9.
Antony Joshua (L) admits to fighting Tyson Fury (R) to prove how good he really is
When asked if he needs Fury on his record before hanging up his gloves, Joshua told the 5 Live Boxing podcast: “We need it for boxing. I need it, you need it, the boxing world needs it.’
Fury, who is widely expected to claim a second straight win over Wilder when the pair take on in Las Vegas, recently outlined the next five fights he wants, including a Joshua double-header in 2022 after a fight with Dillian Whyte later. this year.
Joshua was quick to respond and insisted that he jump at the chance to fight Fury twice, even without the belts. And the 31-year-old now adds that only Fury can take him to the next level.
“Training camp is difficult,” he added. “Getting better is very difficult in boxing. Improving is difficult.
“So fighting Tyson Fury is a big challenge for me because I’m going to put that pressure on myself to really get better.
“But it’s what we all need, I need it, just to see how good I am. Come on, let’s go over this training camp again.
‘Let’s see how far I can get in this period. It will be a good challenge mentally.
“Not about him, but because I actually want to do it right. When I wake up early in the morning and am tired, my body is battered, I still go out and do what I do. It’s a great reward and only someone like Fury can give me that.”
Fury completes his trilogy with American Deontay Wilder in Las Vegas on October 9
34-year-old Ukrainian Usyk, a fellow Olympic gold medalist standing in the way of the fight between Joshua and Fury, has moved up to heavyweight after becoming the undisputed cruiserweight champion.
Usyk has only fought twice in heavyweight in perhaps less than convincing wins over Chazz Witherspoon and Derek Chisora, who went the full distance with the southpaw.
But Joshua believes Usyk’s performance at cruiserweight makes him his second-best opponent to date, behind only Wladamir Klitschko, whom he defeated in a stunning fight at Wembley in 2017.
Joshua said, “On paper, he (Usyk) number 2 is behind Wald. Technically they are very different, but on paper – gold medalist, how long did he (Klitschko) reign as champion? 10 years?
“Wlad at heavyweight did very, very well for himself. So Wlad No1 for those reasons, and Usyk for his success as a cruiserweight.’
Joshua memorably defeated Wladamir Klitschko in 2017 with a stunning 11th round knockout
Fury has also revealed that he believes Usyk will be a tough test for Joshua as he considers whether the heavyweight has deliberately held back enigma in his two tests to date.
“What I’ve seen from Usyk in the last two fights wasn’t much, but then I had to think about it, brainstorm. Maybe he won’t show us everything he can,” he told Frank Warren’s Queensbury Promotions.
‘Maybe he [Usyk] was playing with people like [Derek] Chisora and the other man he fought with, [Chazz] withers spoon. Maybe he didn’t try to win those fights well.
“Maybe he looked bad on purpose so he could get that big payday and get good boxing that night, which has been done before.
“A lot of fighters looked terrible in fights to get other big fights and then took the opportunity and got those big fights.
“I secretly feel that Usyk is better than he looks, and the night he feels he has to perform, he will.”
Fury believes Usyk has intentionally underperformed in his two heavyweight fights