Nigerian-born world heavyweight boxing champion, Anthony Olaseni Oluwafemi Joshua has come out with a startling allegation that he has not been granted the global respect and acclaim that he believes he deserves as a three-belt holder only because he is British, megasportsarena.com reports.
In what could be taken as Joshua’s most daring public stamen since popping to limelight as a gold medalist at the London 2012 Olympic Games in the country of his birth, the lanky pugilist, whose father hails from Sagamu in Ogun State, Nigeria, ‘AJ’ claimed that both he and fellow-Brit, Tyson Fury are denied universal plaudits they deserve because they are British.
The two-time unified heavyweight world champ, who recaptured three of the four belts in his rematch with Mexican-American pugilist, Andy Ruiz Jr on December 7 in Saudi Arabia stressed that the level of praise he is getting is only a fraction of what is should be
While also pointing out that Fury proved his mettle by first defeating former long-term champ, Ukraine’s Wladimir Klitschko then toppled America’s Deontay Wilder to grab the WBC strap in February, Joshua feels he and his compatriot have been demeaned, as he told Sky Sports: “It was a difficult time in my career. Last year was a real tough year.”
This comes just few days after Joshua’s promoter, Eddie Hearn declared that ‘AJ’ would be quite interested in a unification fight with Fury, if a step aside deal can be reached with Wilder to put aside his arrangement for a third bout with ‘The Gypsy King’ and allow the highly-anticipated all-British slug to happen.
Joshua’s scheduled world title defence against Bulgaria’s Kubrat Pulev has been shifted from the initial date of June 20, due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, while Wilder’s trilogy with Fury is also on hold, after the American ace activated a clause for a third fight against the Brit, which has already been delayed until an expected date in October.
However, Matchroom Boxing Promotions boss, Hearn believes the ongoing uncertainty about this year’s fight schedule might prompt Fury’s promoters to strike an agreement with Wilder’s team that would clear the way for discussions about a blockbuster battle between Britain’s two world champions before 2021 comes calling.
Hearn told Sky Sports: “The one positive that could come out of this for boxing is you might find people jumping into bigger fights sooner, rather than later, because of course, their activity has been slowed.
“Their financial gain has been slowed as well, and it probably makes them realise anything can happen – ‘we need to make sure we get this fight in and I need to define my legacy.’ I think when you look at AJ, I think very much it’s a thought that’s crossed my mind. We’ve got June 20 as a penciled date for Anthony Joshua.
“We will make a statement potentially this week, or maybe early next week, that’s likely to be delayed. I think that’s pretty straightforward and obvious. Hopefully until the end of July. But if it starts kicking on beyond that, then you get to a situation where if Joshua is only going to box once this year, he would very much like that to be against Tyson Fury.
“The situation is a little bit out of our hands in that, if Bob Arum and Al Haymon can talk and make Deontay Wilder wait a little bit, we would absolutely love to go into that fight next.”