Joe Joyce has suggested Oleksandr Usyk will avoid a title fight between the pair if he is thrust into mandatory contention.
'The Juggernaut' is set to return to action on April 22 when he takes on Zhilei Zhang to defend his status as No.1 contender with the WBO. Current champion Usyk looked set to face Tyson Fury in a battle for the undisputed titles but the showdown has now been called off after negotiations stalled, leaving Joyce with a claim to fight either heavyweight if he defeats Zhang.
Joyce will face a wait to fight Usyk, given the Ukrainian will likely first set to be ordered to face WBA challenger Daniel Dubois this summer following the collapse. The British star, who has previously defeated Dubois, is not confident that Usyk will accept any clash and has suggested he could instead pursue a WBC title shot against Fury.
"It is kind of waiting to see which one of the two options opens up next," Joyce said in an exclusive chat with Mirror Fighting . "But I think Usyk has already said that he doesn't want to fight me. Because I'm like a tank or whatever he is saying. But the difference is Fury said he would like that fight.
"I am the number two heavyweight so let's get the fight made. I'll go beat up Zhang back in London town and then yeah I can have a go at Fury. I'll back myself to do anyone and beat them. Particularly Fury because I have shared the ring with him in sparring too and it was 50/50 and we did good work."
Usyk had indeed joked last year that he did not want to fight the leading contender due to his size and frame along with his fighting style. This was largely down to his planned pursuit of Fury however which has failed to come to fruition, after he walked away from the deal following Fury's demands on social media.
Who wins if the pair meet - Oleksandr Usyk or Joe Joyce? Let us know in the comments section below
Joyce lost to Usyk at amateur level but has frequently spoken about his desire to get revenge, pointing out the drastic development he has made since turning professional. And he believes he now possesses the skills as well as a significant size advantage to progress and become world champion.
"I think if it had gone a few more rounds I think I could have done something in the fight," Joyce said. "I was landing shots and I was well in the fight but he was just a bit more slick and cute with his shots. "I also feel like I could have had better preparation with southpaw sparring and things leading up to the fight, but we have both come a long way.
"And I feel with Ismael Salas coming up with the game plan and setting the techniques for me to work on, I think he can come up with something for me to beat Usyk now. I think it is a great fight and there will be no argument if I fight Usyk or Fury because I am at that elite level."