Anthony Joshua insisted on sitting at ringside to watch Oleksandr Usyk “to see how good my mandatory challenger will be”.
Usyk passed his first serious test in the heavyweight division by defeating Derek Chisora via unanimous decision last Saturday, with Joshua getting a first-hand look.
Undefeated Usyk is the mandatory challenger to Joshua’s WBO championship and is demanding a shot at the title next year.
“I need to see my competition in the flesh,” Joshua told Sky Sports News.
“I’m in my own training camp but it’s a good time for me to learn what else is out there.
“It’s a business opportunity. I want to come down and see what my competition is doing.
“As much as it is to support Derek, it is to see how good my mandatory challenger will be.”
Joshua will defend his IBF, WBA and WBO titles against Kubrat Pulev on December 12, live on Sky Sports Box Office, and his priority is to then fight WBC champion Tyson Fury twice in 2021 to crown an undisputed champion.
But Usyk does not want to wait for Joshua and Fury to settle their score.
“I am the mandatory for Joshua so he has two options,” Usyk told Sky Sports News.
“One; to fight me.
“Two; to vacate and to go and fight Fury.
“Either he fights me or relinquishes.
“I am waiting. I am ready.”
Moments after outpointing Chisora, Usyk was asked about his heavyweight title aspirations and replied: “Not just world champion, the undisputed world champion.”
Joshua and Usyk both won Olympic gold in 2012.
Usyk has since won the World Boxing Super Series and undisputed cruiserweight title while Joshua became a two-time heavyweight champion.
“Usyk is already in AJ’s head,” his co-promoter Alexander Krassyuk, who works alongside Eddie Hearn, told Sky Sports last week.
“Their fight will happen anyway, this is just a matter of time.
“AJ knows that this guy is a real threat for him.”
Parker among circling contenders
Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn has warned that “the belts are important to Joshua” but Joseph Parker is eager to keep himself in line with Usyk should the WBO title become vacant.
“One hundred per cent, we’d take the fight [with Usyk for WBO belt],” Parker’s manager Higgins told Sky Sports.
“In fact, I think Joseph’s claim for that opportunity would stack up against anyone else in that top 10.
“We would take the fight. You could look at doing it in the UK obviously, or New Zealand potentially, if it got a bit of government support.
“It all depends on that mandatory, and whether Joshua vacates or not. We’ll keep winning and take the opportunity when it comes.”
Parker is No 3 in the WBO rankings, behind Usyk and Daniel Dubois, but hopes to jump one position if he beats fellow New Zealander Junior Fa (ranked No 6) in December.
Former WBO champion Parker lost the belt to Joshua.
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