Anthony Joshua: Five Opponents The Two-Time Heavyweight Champion Could Face Next
Anthony Joshua has become only the fourth man in history to become a two-time heavyweight in an immediate rematch following the likes of Floyd Patterson, Muhammad Ali and Lennox Lewis.
The 30-year-old reclaimed the WBA, WBO, IBF and IBO titles following a unanimous decision win against Andy Ruiz Jr last month after displaying a sensational boxing performance against the Mexican-American fighter.
After relieving the insurmountable pressure on his shoulders, the questions coming out of the desert in Diriyah: what’s next?
We take a look at the options below:
1) Kubrat Pulev
The obligations of a champion can be tasking, and one of those facing Joshua are a few mandatory challengers. Bulgarian heavyweight contender Pulev is in-line with the IBF and Joshua must face him before May 31, 2020, or face being stripped of that belt.
Given that Pulev is aligned with Bob Arum and Top Rank, AJ’s team will not want that belt to leave their stable and that could see the 30-year-old face the former title challenger next.
2) Oleksandr Usyk
The cruiserweight king is one of the outsiders in the heavyweight division considering his sensational boxing qualities, though he’s yet to face a serious test in boxing’s premier division. Given that he became undisputed in his former division, the rules of the WBO organisation state that Usyk can become a mandatory challenger once he moves into division above.
The Ukrainian Olympic gold medalist of 2012 did exactly that against Chaz Witherspoon in October. A statement from the WBO read that Joshua must face Usyk by June, 7th 2020.
Common sense says Joshua cannot fulfil both mandatories in a matter of weeks. It will result in either the relinquishing of one of the belts or Pulev and Usyk will be his next two bouts.
3) Dillian Whyte
Joshua and Whyte will always be a fight fans would want to see. The two have a fierce competitive rivalry dating back to their infamous amateur bout in which Whyte beat the unified champion.
Joshua returned the favour in 2015 in their heated British heavyweight title clash with a brutal 7th round KO. Being under the same promotional umbrella, it a fight that can be made instantly should the champ decide to vacate one of his belts.