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Anthony Joshua’s blockbuster clash with Tyson Fury in doubt as WBO chief suggests AJ will have to fight mandatory Oleksandr Usyk BEFORE facing the Gypsy King

Paco Valcarcel has cast doubt over an Anthony Joshua – Tyson Fury showdown after the WBO president tweeted Eddie Hearn ‘knows the meaning of commitment’ after the destruction of Kubrat Pulev.

AJ was back to his explosive best as he returned to the ring for the first time in over a year to take on IBF mandatory challenger Pulev, finishing the durable Bulgarian in the ninth round at Wembley Arena.

Saturday’s win moves the WBO, WBA, IBF and IBO champion a step closer to taking on WBC champion Fury in a mouthwatering blockbuster next year, with all parties seemingly eager for the fight to happen.

However, boxing politics may threaten to derail AJ – Fury plans, with WBO mandatory challenger Oleksandr Usyk waiting in the wings to take on Joshua next.

There had been hopes that the WBO would be open to allowing the unification fight to go ahead and for Usyk, who defeated Dereck Chisora last month, to wait his turn.

However, WBO chief Valcarcel has thrown a spanner in the works for Joshua’s promoter Hearn, who is planning to hold talks with Fury’s representatives on Monday.

Valcarcel added that the organisation has already granted two exceptions to Anthony Joshua, first for the Ruiz II bout and then the Pulev clash, and so indicated they won’t be willing to do another for the Tyson Fury fight.

If he wants to pursue a unification fight with Fury, AJ must fight Usyk first. Joshua could vacate, which would mean the fight would not be a unification, or Usyk could selflessly agree to step aside to allow the unification to happen.

‘Usyk has been the WBO mandatory challenger for more than one year,’ Usyk’s co-promotor Alexander Krassyuk told Sky Sports before the Chisora bout.

‘He has agreed to let AJ versus Pulev happen, with regards that the winner fights him next. This statement is still solid.

Our plan is A) beat Derek Chisora, B) push AJ to comply with WBO rules or vacate the title, C) defeat AJ (or any other WBO champion or contender) and become the heavyweight champion. Simple and practical.’

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