Lennox Lewis is calling on Anthony Joshua to join Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder in a three-way battle to find his successor as the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world.
That supreme 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.
In a wide-ranging statement Lewis again criticised the multi-titled Joshua and his promoter Eddie Hearn for failing to make offers to both WBC heavyweight belt holder Wilder and lineal champion Fury which would be too big for them to refuse.
He is also demanding that Joshua fights the winner of the impending rematch between Wilder and Fury to unify all the titles 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.”