After Anthony Joshua (21-0, 20KOs) went the distance for the first time in his career and added the WBO version of the heavyweight title to his IBF, WBA and IBO collection. I take a look at his next possible opponents and who is the most likely.
Before looking at the obvious choice there are other routes that Joshua could take before attempting to claim the last title to make him the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world.
Joseph Parker (24-1, 18KOs) has to take a lot of credit for being the first man to take Joshua the full scheduled 12 rounds. In my opinion there is absolutely no doubt he lost the fight, personally I only gave Parker the first and fifth rounds. I find it laughable that anyone could give Parker the fight and for some people to suggest that the scorecards were wide because it will be easier to promote AJ verses the other belt holder is deluded.
The saying “styles make fights” could not be any more appropriate when looking at this fight in particular. Joshua clearly struggles to generate his power against smaller opposition. If you add in the fact that Parker has a strong chin, failed to close the distance, engage in the pocket and have a useless referee that intervened far too much then you get what we saw on Saturday night.
The 26-year-old New Zealander is still talented and young enough to come back again but not in a rematch straight away maybe in a year or two. Once he has gained more experience he will be a very dangerous customer.
Small and Dangerous Povetkin
Alexander Povetkin (34-1, 24KOs) is by no means small at 6’2” but compared to the other giant heavyweights he will always give away a height advantage. Where the Russian lacks in height, he gains in durability and a solid chin. The 38-year-old is no spring chicken but he has never been stopped and could cause Joshua problems with his size and desire to close the distance.
The ‘Russian Vityaz’ is now considered to be the third best heavyweight in the world after stopping David Price (22-5, 18KOs) in five rounds on Saturday night. A fight with AJ would be unlikely but is possible if negotiations with the WBC champion fail to materialise.
Another Battle of London
Dillian Whyte (23-1, 17KOs) will never be far from Joshua’s thoughts when deciding his next opponent. The 29-year-old from Brixton, London would be a worthy opponent that the British public would be more than happy to see again. There is no love lost between them and although there is now a genuine respect for one another they do have a fierce rivalry that brings fireworks in the ring.
For me ‘The Body Snatcher’ has done enough to warrant a rematch but a chance to fight in the states for the WBC strap seems to be Whyte’s driving force at the moment. Whyte was ringside for the Joshua-Parker fight and was quick to challenge Povetkin after he knocked out Price but the IBF have thrown a spanner in the works giving Dillian a chance to fight in a title eliminator to become the mandatory challenger to AJ’s title.
The Londoner has recovered well since his defeat to Joshua back in 2015 and clearly has options but a chance to face his old foe might be the one he cannot turn down.
Kubrat Pulev (25-1, 13KOs) was supposed to face Joshua back in October 2017 but he unfortunately sustained an injury that ruled him out. The 36-year-old is ranked at number 4 in the world and has only ever been stopped by Wladimir Klitschko. The ‘Cobra’ would be a big enough name to keep the British fans interested and he does have a decent pedigree.
The chances are slim though, especially after the IBF ordered a fight between the Bulgarian and Dillian Whyte in a title eliminator for the chance to face their champion Anthony Joshua. I would assume that Pulev will look to action this contract but whether it will be against Whyte or not is another matter.
The ‘Gypsy King’
Tyson Fury (25-0, 18KOs) is expected to announce his comeback fight this week. He is of course the only other fighter to have beaten Klitschko and fulfil his dream of becoming the undisputed heavyweight kingpin. Every boxing pundit gives him a great chance against Joshua; in fact I would go as far to say that a majority of them believe Fury wins comfortably.
There is no doubt that if the Tyson Fury that beat Wladimir shows up in the ring against AJ then it would be a close fight. In my opinion the 29-year-old would probably stink out the arena with his boring style and box on the outside while never engaging. That may well be enough to win but he does have a suspect chin so it would be interesting if Joshua did catch him. Chances are this will not be a possibility until next year but stranger things have happened.
The other guys
David Haye (28-3, 26KOs) has to not only beat Tony Bellew next month but beat him well if he is to be considered a valid opponent for Joshua. The South-Londoner will always be that niggling name that is always being touted by the casual fan. Eddie Hearn is a business man and he knows that Big Josh verses Haye would sell a bundle of tickets.
For all you guys state side that are wondering why? Well I think it’s because the British fans love to see a tear-up and this does have the ingredients for just that. The 37-year-old will fight small and we can clearly see that Joshua does struggle when his opponents are shorter so it would be interesting to see whether you like it or not.
Jarrell ‘Baby’ Miller (20-0-1, 18KOs) has been a name that was mentioned by Eddie Hearn not so long ago for a potential opponent for the Olympic gold medallist. I do not think he deserves a shot but public exposer in America would be the only reason why Miller could be considered.
A rematch with the rejuvenated Dominic Breazeale (19-1, 17KOs) or maybe even a dust-up with Luis Ortiz (28-1, 24KOs) would be two huge long shots. The Cuban did show character in his last fight so why not try and blast out the southpaw earlier then his last opponent did? Breazeale was supposed to fight Pulev in the IBF eliminator but he has turned it down and been replaced by Whyte. Why would the American turn it down? Maybe because his next fight will be for the WBC title instead?
The Halfwit Wilder
There really is only one man that AJ wants to fight next and that is the halfwit WBC world champion Deontay Wilder (40-0, 39KOs). The ‘Bronze Bomber’ has the only remaining title on Joshua’s hit-list so he is the obvious choice for a summertime showdown in England. Personally, I think Wilder will price himself out of the fight because he has no intention of fighting Joshua. He will not want to travel to England and will demand an outrageous amount of money that he does not deserve but let’s hope I’m proved wrong.
Wilder is a social media whore that just talks a lot cr*p, I honestly do not rate him as a fighter nor do I like him as a person. He has only fought one decent opponent in 40 fights and has never considered a unification fight in 3 years as champion.
I do however give him credit for withstanding a beating from Ortiz so he clearly has heart when in the ring and of course he does have that equaliser as the guys on the Billy C Boxing show like to put it. Maybe that will be enough to stop Joshua but we will never know until the fight is signed and delivered.
The 32-year-old was grossly vocal this Weekend indicating that he wants to kill someone in the ring. The guy is repulsive and clearly uneducated as it wasn’t too long ago that we lost Scott Westgarth and David Whittom plus others in recent years.
To be brutally honest I would make him fight Dillian Whyte first as part of a two fight contract and if successful make it happen in 2019. I can only see one outcome and that is ‘Windmill’ Wilder once again avoiding a unification fight.
Again I hope I’m proved wrong but it wouldn’t surprise me if he takes to social media in the coming weeks, hollering and hooting about Joshua ducking him and then ends up taking on Breazeale instead but that’s just my two pennies worth…