Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn has shot down suggestions that Anthony Joshua will bow out of the running to take on Oleksandr Usyk in a rematch so that Tyson Fury can fight him instead.
Joshua, 32, suffered his second professional defeat in four outings when he lost to Usyk (19-0) via unanimous decision in September, surrendering the WBA (Super), IBF, WBO, and IBO heavyweight titles in the process.
A rematch clause means 'AJ' gets first crack at the Ukrainian, but WBC and 'The Ring' champion Fury (31-0-1) has implored his British rival to step aside as he looks to become the undisputed king at heavyweight.
Joshua (24-2) appeared open to the possibility in a recent interview with iFL TV, where he hinted a deal could be struck if it made enough business sense.
"In terms of stepping aside, I don't know if that goes in line with what I morally stand for. . .but I want to be known as one of the smartest businessmen as well," he explained.
"I want to make the smart decisions and if the money is right we would have to look at it but respect has more value than money.
"Will I take the step-aside money? If it's a smart business move. . .will it affect my reputation and respect? Will I still get to fight the best fighters? Those are the three things I have to consider."
Fury, 33, recently finished off former WBC champion Deontay Wilder for the second time in as many meetings, leaving the 'Gypsy King' a clear path as he looks to complete his heavyweight belt collection.
The Wythenshawe native recently told Unibet's The Lowdown his much-anticipated meeting with Joshua would be "dead in the water" if he lost again to Usyk—which is the result he's expecting if they rematch.
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Hearn appeared to leave room for an offer that could tempt Joshua when asked about the step-aside bid, but his first priority is signing an agreement to take on 'The Cat' again.
"I don’t think that’s a consideration," the Matchroom figureheard told iFL TV.
“I think at some point if an offer was presented to someone that would be a situation where it would be difficult to not discuss Joshua stepping aside.
"At the moment, the only focus is on the rematch. Anthony Joshua wants to fight Oleksandr Usyk.
"Until that is presented to him, and it hasn’t been presented to him in terms of stepping aside, that’s all the focus is."
Undefeated Usyk has looked a major success since stepping up from cruiserweight in 2019, retiring Chazz Witherspoon in his heavyweight debut before beating Dereck Chisora and Joshua via decision.
Hearn went on to admit he hadn't seen the Joshua interview in question, but he remained resolute that "all he [Joshua] wants to do is rematch Oleksandr Usyk."
It's understood that bout is being planned for a spring date, which leaves time for alternative plans should Fury succeed in tempting Joshua to let him face Usyk.
Fury's options appear open after the WBC last month failed to order him to defend his title against interim titleholder Dillian Whyte.
The two-time world heavyweight champion has said he's only interested in fighting Usyk or Joshua, but the pair's potential date against one another could leave the 'Gypsy King' out in the cold.
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