Anthony Joshua believes Tyson Fury’s decision to face Francis Ngannou is ‘massively frustrating’ for the heavyweight division - and says his British rival should have waited until he was no longer WBC champion to do it.
After talks broke down for Fury’s unification with Oleksandr Usyk earlier this year, the 6ft 9in heavyweight decided to arrange a clash with MMA fighter Ngannou in October instead of defending his title against a legitimate challenger.
Before that, Joshua takes on Dillian Whyte at the o2 Arena, London on August 12 as the two-time world heavyweight champion plots a route back to the top of the division.
And, although Joshua insists he has no problem with Fury fighting a non-boxer in Saudi, the 33-year-old Londoner reckons it is bad news for the division.
He said: “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. That’s all they want to do and then they can pack up.
“Obviously 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 will have been able to get their opportunity.
“I feel sorry for the people who want to know where they are going with their career. But Fury has to do what Fury has to do for him. I admire the guy for his confidence to do what’s right for him - he has an ‘eff it’ mentality. I think we all need a bit of that in today’s society.”
With no scheduled mandatory challenger from the WBC, Fury is well within his right to take the Ngannou fight and not defend his title.
But, when asked whether he thought the WBC should have installed a mandatory for Fury, whose last one was Dillian Whyte more than 15 months ago, Joshua said: “Usyk was my mandatory and I ended up losing to him. I would have loved to have gone to Saudi to compete with someone else and make a sh!t 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 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.”