Anthony Joshua admits he’s in a rebuilding phase, says Tyson Fury should be boxing active boxers ahead of Francis Ngannou event

Anthony Joshua returns to the ring in London’s O2 Arena next week when he takes on old rival Dillian Whyte.

On Saturday, August 12, Joshua has his second fight with trainer Derrick James having outscored Jermaine Franklin earlier in the year and the former unified heavyweight champion wants to get back into the title picture, but he knows he might have to wait a while yet.

Joshua could meet Deontay Wilder in Saudi Arabia early in 2024 but must get by Whyte first. A couple of months later, Tyson Fury fights MMA star Francis Ngannou in a crossover fight that is sure to be a commercial blockbuster. Fury holds the WBC belt and likely won’t box for some time afterwards.

“I’m not frustrated by that because I’ve been champion and I know my process and I’m on this rebuilding phase but I can understand for people waiting in line it must be massively frustrating because to become champion for some people is the be all and end all,” Joshua said. “That’s all they want to do and then they can pack up. Obviously they would have fought and there would have been a rematch between Usyk and Fury but that could have all been done and dusted this year and the belts would have been broken up and people would have been able to get their opportunity.”

That Joshua admits he is rebuilding following the two decision losses to Usyk shows the Whyte fight is a bridge to bigger things. It will give him the information he needs about where he is as a fighter and how he is learning and progressing under James. But he is also self-confident with the decisions he has made regarding his own career.

Yet the WBC has given Fury a pass for the Ngannou contest rather than make him fight a mandatory or a worthy challenger. 

“Usyk was my mandatory and I ended up losing to him,” Joshua added. “I would have loved to have gone to Saudi to compete with someone else and make a shit load of money and swerve my mandatory. I would still be champion if I could do that, but I didn’t get that opportunity and I had to take it on the chin. But life isn’t always fair. 

“When all is said and done it will just be part of his [Fury’s] legacy and I think we will all forget about it sooner or later. But if you want to hold him accountable then yes, he should be fighting active fighters at this current time and he should wait until the end of his career, when he’s not champion anymore, to compete with MMA fighters.”

At the same time, Joshua knows as well as anyone how commercial wheels are oiled and he understands why Fury has made the call he has made, to fight Ngannou.

“Fury has to do what Fury has to do for him,” Joshua said. “I admire the guy for his confidence to do what’s right for him – he has ‘eff it’ mentality. I think we all need a bit of that in today’s society.”