Anthony Joshua has vowed to fight Tyson Fury even without his heavyweight title – but will activate his Alexander Usik rematch clause first.
The British star, 31, was outboxed in front of a packed Tottenham Hotspur stadium on Saturday night, eventually losing by unanimous decision and seemingly squandering his chance to fight the Gypsy King in a £500million showdown.
I Joshua vs Usik Live: Follow all post-fight reactions
But Joshua was euphoric despite the defeat, insisting that he would face rival Fury even without his belt.
AJ lost his WBA (Super), IBF, WBO and IBO titles to Ukrainian star, 34, but admitted it is part of the game and is keen to get back on the ‘road to undisputed’.
Soon after his defeat, Joshua claimed: “The road to all things unquestionable and good, it is good.
“As I said, I will fight Tyson Fury, (Deontay) Wilder without a belt.
“Belts are fun. It’s great, it’s legacy. But with or without a belt, I’d fight anyone.
“The Road to Undisputed is a good title and a good title to pursue.
Free bets: Get over £2,000 in new customer deals
“But would you still see it without a belt?
“That’s the main thing – do you have two competing fighters in the ring from UK soil who just want to go toe-to-toe.”
Despite having an eye on Fury, AJ is itching to set the record straight first and wrestle his belt back from Usyak.
Asked if he planned to activate his rematch clause, a defiant Joshua roared: “100 percent. 110 percent.
“I’m ready to go back to training. 12 rounds, because of my lungs and everything, it was a good 12-rounder, so when I get back to training I’ll be in a good place where we left off. ”
Joshua remained in an optimistic mood after returning to the dressing room in the evening.
The British star tweeted: “Stay positive even if the world collapses in front of you!
“London I love you and thank you every time!”
Joshua also explained that his loss to Usyak in front of his home audience was a ‘nice experience’, having taken him far from the fight after losing an eye for the first time in his career.
He added: “From the ninth, I couldn’t see into the ninth round. Couldn’t really see anything.
“I had my eyes closed, but it was a good experience, because in adversity, you just have to learn to control yourself, to be on top of things …
“So while I couldn’t see anything, this is the first time it’s happened in a fight.
“I was thinking, ‘Well, well, this is the first time I’ve had my eyes closed in a fight. I can’t see anything.’
“I’m seeing out of one eye, but it got better as the dizziness went on.”
Soon after the defeat, Joshua was taken to the hospital with a suspected broken eye.