By: Hans Themistode
Whenever Bob Arum lays his eyes on unified heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua, they immediately fill with dollar signs. The long-time promoter knows good and well that Joshua represents a massive payday for himself, his promotional company Top Rank, and of course, WBC/Ring Magazine heavyweight titlist, Tyson Fury.
Just a few short months ago, Arum believed he had a deal in place that would pit Joshua and Fury in the ring against one another on a two-fight contract. Their undisputed title fight was set to take place on the other side of the world in Saudi Arabia. Yet, with Fury contractually mandated to take on Deontay Wilder instead, Joshua has also moved on to facing WBO mandatory challenger and former undisputed cruiserweight champion, Oleksandr Usyk, on September 25th.
Under normal circumstances, Arum would be screaming at the top of his lungs in support of Joshua. With tens, if not hundreds, of millions of dollars on the line, the long-time promoter would be crossing his fingers in the hopes that Joshua makes it the dance floor against Fury. However, with Usyk holding a special place in the heart of Arum, the 89-year-old promoter is hoping the highly touted Ukrainian gets the job done.
“Usyk is a friend of mine because he is Vasiliy Lomachenko’s friend,” said Arum during an interview with Sky Sports. “He is a terrific guy, funny, articulate and smart. It is against my economic interest, but I will be rooting for [Usyk] in the fight. I just can’t help myself.”
While Arum doesn’t promote Usyk, he does share a close connection with Lomachenko, one of Arum’s top fighters. Both men captured gold in the 2012 Olympics, the heavyweight division for Usyk and the lightweight division for Lomachenko.
Currently, despite pulling for Usyk, the pound-for-pound star has opened up as a sizable underdog. Not only does the betting market favor Joshua but many in the boxing community also believe the gargantuan heavyweight champion will get the job done.
In Usyk’s most recent trip to the ring, the Ukrainian took on fringe contender Dereck Chisora. While the former cruiserweight king may have eked out a close unanimous decision victory, the British native was left unimpressed with his opponent.
“Joshua will run through Usyk,” said Chisora following their contest. “He doesn’t have any power at all.”
As for Joshua, the 31-year-old has been hard at work as he prepares to deal with the technical boxing ability of Usyk. The unified titlist was last seen in the ring in December of 2020 against Kubrat Pulev. Joshua had little to no trouble dealing with his man, dropping him a total of four times before ultimately ending his night in the ninth.