Anthony Joshua and Derek Chisora disagree over domestic, interim opponent

Anthony Joshua is on the lookout for an interim opponent after his next opponent Oleksandr Usyk returned to Ukraine to take up arms in the war against Russia.

Anthony Joshua says he is open to a fight with British heavyweight rival Joe Joyce as his rematch with Oleksandr Usyk looks to be more and more unlikely.

Usyk, who was in the UK recently to promote the likely contest, has since returned to his besieged homeland Ukraine. The WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO heavyweight champion has taken up arms and is preparing to fight for his country against the Russian invasion.

That certainly puts his proposed rematch with AJ in May in serious doubt.

Oleksandr Usyk

The 35-year-old has more pressing matters.

"I really don't know when I'm going to be stepping back in the ring," said Usyk to CNN earlier this month. "My country and my honour are more important to me than a championship belt."

The unprecedented situation leaves Joshua looking for an interim opponent. The former heavyweight world champion, who now has two defeats on his record, has said he is trying to communicate with Usyk.

Speaking to IFLTV, Joshua said: "I do not really want to say too much on it. I am dealing with things behind closed doors, trying to make communication. But I do not want to say too much on it, because it is a complex situation."

Joshua: I have got to keep active

Asked if he is thinking about an interim fight, Joshua said: "For me personally, yeah I have got to keep active.

"It is the best thing. An inactive fighter is not a good fighter. So 100 per cent, I would love to keep active."

Joshua remains intent on fighting in the next few months after he exercised his re-match clause and planned to fight Usyk.

According to Boxingnews24 Joseph Parker has volunteered to be his interim opponent.

Of course that would be a re-run of their fight three years ago when Joshua won convincingly on points over the then WBO champion Parker.

It's a contest that Joshua says he is open to, but Joe Joyce's name has also been bandied about.

Joyce, 36, is unbeaten and has not fought since he stopped Carlos Takam in six rounds last summer. And while Joshua's close associate Derek Chisora is not a fan of that match-up, Joshua is willing.

Chisora told IFLTV: "Who is out there who could push him? The problem with those fights is that you take one and then you will not be motivated enough.

"I would like him to go in there with someone he's in fear of so he can motivate himself."

Asked if Joe Joyce would be a good fight, Chisora said: "No."

But Joshua interjected and said: "Yes, it's a good fight, anyone. Anyone."

Joyce: We had some great spars

Joyce admitted after defeating Takum in July 2021 that he has got Joshua on his radar.

"I haven't spoken to him for ages. I haven't tried either," he told Sky Sports.

"He's a fellow GB team-mate, but we could be fighting very soon.

"He's always been a step ahead anyway. I've always been a stage behind. Now I've worked my way up, so I should be challenging him soon.

"When you're the same weight, you're probably going to fight. You always have that in the back of your mind.

"We had some great spars over the years and it was very competitive, so it would be one hell of a fight, if he wants it?"

Joshua has shaken up his camp of late after announcing Angel Fernandez as his new trainer.

AJ confirmed to Behind The Gloves that Fernandez will be stepping up into the main role as he freshens things up.

He said: "I'm working with Angel Fernandez right now. [He's based] in London and been in my camp for the last three years anyway.

"He's been at the last three of my world championship fights.of his return to the ring.

Rob McCracken, who has trained Joshua from day one, is still expected to be involved in AJ's next camp.

Latest news