Nigerian-born heavyweight boxing champion of the world, Anthony Olaseni Oluwafemi Joshua has received a tall order from former belt holder, Lennox Lewis, who says the current star must make himself avaialable against Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder.
While Joshua’s camp are still in the hunt for an opponent for him on April 13 at Wembley, Lewis urged his fellow-Brit to join Fury and Wilder in a three-way battle to find his successor as undisputed heavyweight champ of the world.
That prize in boxing has remained in the possession of Lewis through the 15 years since he retired, and he believes it is high time the top three big men in the ring today sorted out which of them assumes the crown.
Lewis again criticised Joshua and his promoter Eddie Hearn for failing to make offers too big to refuse for both WBC heavyweight belt holder, Wilder and lineal champion, Fury.
He is also demanding that Joshua fights the winner of the impending rematch between Wilder and Fury to unify all the title before the year is out, not continue delaying into 2020 as AJ has hinted he may do.
Lewis, from his boxing and community academy in Jamaica, said: “The way I see it, at the top of today’s current crop of top heavyweights is Joshua, Wilder, and Fury. Let’s call them the big three.
“They are at the very top of the division, and then there’s everyone else, who can be interchangeable, yet still dangerous, opponents.
“At Joshua’s trajectory, I expected him to face Wilder in 2018. To my disappointment, those negotiations fell through.
“I’ve placed a lot of the onus on Hearn and Joshua for that fight not happening.
“During that time, when I heard Joshua saying he was in no rush to face Wilder, and might do so in 2019, 2020 or beyond, of course I was shocked at those comments.
“I understand that boxing is a business, but as a fan, I want to see the best fight the best, when they’re at their best.
“Now I’m not privy to all of the details, and all of the back and forth between the Joshua and Wilder camps.
“But, based on what I’ve heard, my opinion was that Joshua and Hearn needed to step up their game if this fight was going to happen.
“I thought it was ludicrous that Hearn started off by offering Wilder a paycheck for the undisputed heavyweight championship of the world, instead of a percentage, especially when you consider that they did a 65/35 split with Joseph Parker for a unification bout.
“It’s disrespectful to the fraternity of boxing, and the gains we have made getting fighters a larger percentage of what they put their lives on the line, and work so hard for.
“With Wilder-Fury 2 happening, Eddie is now scrambling for a viable opponent for Joshua. If Joshua handles his business in April, the winner of Wilder-Fury 2 should take on Joshua for the undisputed title.
“If that doesn’t happen, then we know that it’s just about milking the British fans for as much money as possible, instead of bringing the undisputed heavyweight championship of the world back home to them for the second time in their lifetime. Just that simple.
“As for Wilder and Fury, I’m looking forward to the rematch and to see a great fight between two warriors.
“As a fan, I’m looking forward to seeing how the division gets sorted out, and when we have the emergence of one undisputed champion.
“I’m hoping the end of 2019, we will have our answers on just who that will be.”