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25 Sept 2022

Joshua legacy tarnished as boxing world demands Fury v Usyk – what happens next?

Joshua legacy tarnished as boxing world demands Fury v Usyk – what happens next?

Anthony Joshua endured another defeat by Oleksandr Usyk after dropping a split decision to the Ukrainian WBA, IBF and WBO champion, but the 32-year-old is determined to fight on.

Here the PA news agency examines the questions arising from Saturday’s engrossing clash in Jeddah.

What does the loss mean for Joshua?

Having stood at the peak of the heavyweight division, he now faces a period of rebuilding with the ultimate aim of becoming a three-time champion.

It was a far tougher fight for Usyk this time round as Joshua showed his courage and discipline to challenge right until the final bell, but the fact remains that the Ukrainian southpaw is operating at a different level.

A unification match with Tyson Fury is now the most anticipated contest in boxing.

Who will Joshua fight?

As Usyk and Fury vie to become the undisputed champion, Joshua will aim to reel off the wins that grow his confidence and offer a route back into title contention.

The plan is for him to fight again in December and to stay busy with as many as four outings next year. Expect one or two tune-up fights before the likes of Deontay Wilder, Dillian Whyte and Joe Joyce come into view.

Is his legacy tarnished?

A glance of his recent record suggests yes. He has now lost three of his last five fights. There is no shame in falling to a pound-for-pound king like Usyk, but those defeats have cost him his place at the top table.

Further back, he collapsed to one of the great upsets in heavyweight history when he was stopped in the seventh round by the roly-poly Andy Ruiz Jr, although he avenged that result.

For the second Usyk meeting alone Joshua earned in excess of £30million so he will eventually retire a wealthy man, while his role in injecting renewed interest into British boxing as a fighter with crossover appeal is undeniable, but when the era is analysed Usyk and Fury are the names that will stand out.

Will Usyk and Fury happen?

The appetite to see the unbeaten heavyweight rivals clash is huge and all roads lead to them meeting at some point, with Riyadh seen as an early contender to stage the event.

Fury announced his retirement again last week, but soon after Usyk had toppled Joshua for the second time he called out the 35-year-old, who responded by saying he will walk away from boxing if the fight does not happen.

Lennox Lewis was the last undisputed world heavyweight champion in 1999 and both Usyk and Fury are seeking their own slice of greatness. It could be an ugly battle, however, due to their awkward styles.

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