Anthony Joshua

Joe Joyce’s team confirm contacting Anthony Joshua over a British heavyweight clash

Joshua could be looking for a new opponent with his rematch against Oleksandr Usyk in doubt after the Ukrainian returned home to help fight against Russia's invasion

Joe Joyce’s manager has confirmed contact has been made with Anthony Joshua, but has questioned whether his British rival will take the fight as he awaits a world title rematch with Oleksandr Usyk.

Joshua activated a rematch clause to fight again for the WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight titles after Usyk stunned him last September, but it is unclear when the Ukrainian will be ready to return to the ring amid his country’s invasion by Russia.

In recent weeks both Joshua and Joyce have expressed interest in facing each other, while Joyce’s promoter Frank Warren said this week that he had made “initial contact” with Joshua’s representatives over a possible bout.

Joe Joyce
Image:Joe Joyce says he ‘would love’ to face Joshua

“I think it’s a great fight for Joe, the team think it’s a great fight for Joe,” Adam Morallee of S-JAM management said. “Joe would love the fight, but I don’t think AJ fancies the fight.

“He’s looking for an interim fight between now and fighting Usyk, I don’t think he wants a big fight, I don’t think he wants to test himself in that way, with a big test. I think he wants something a bit easier.”

Since it became apparent that there could be a delay to the rematch with Usyk, several top heavyweights have expressed an interest in facing Joshua, including the likes of Otto Wallin and Luis Ortiz.

His decision over his next move comes as fellow British heavyweights Tyson Fury and Dillian Whyte prepare to meet on April 23, with Fury’s WBC title on the line.

Morallee suggests that, if Usyk were to remain unable to fight due to the situation in Ukraine, the winner of a possible Joshua-Joyce bout could go on to face the winner of Fury vs Whyte.

Anthony Joshua commiserates Joe Joyce following his loss in the 2016 Olympic final (PA)
Image:Joshua commiserates Joyce following his loss in the 2016 Olympic final

“I think Joshua and Joyce should fight, and with Usyk out of the picture fighting for his country in Ukraine, he would then effectively have two semi-finals to determine the best in the world.

“Four out of the top five heavyweights are British, so you’d have Whyte vs Fury on one side, Joyce vs Joshua on the other side, and the winners fight each other, I think it would be amazing and would be one of the biggest British fights of all time.

“Joe has got something to give as No 1 in the WBO. Joshua has no belts now, and Joyce has that No 1 spot so there is something for Joshua there.

“So it’s a brilliant, mouth-watering fight that Joshua should take, but unfortunately won’t take.”

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