Anthony Joshua has certainly created a buzz in British boxing since turning pro in 2013 off the back of a successful Olympic campaign. Now, a variety of big fight opportunities have opened up for the 27-year-old, who has made his intentions known about staying humble while becoming a boxing billionaire.
Eddie Hearn seems keen on taking his prize possession across the water to box in America and take on the likes of Deontay Wilder or possibly rematch Wladimir Klitschko. Hearn could conceivably pack out Wembley Arena and make a packet out of a defence or two so the fact they’re looking to crack the States suggests Joshua himself is pushing the agenda. The Klitschko rematch was originally being rumoured to take place in Las Vegas in October but now November 11 seems a likely bet and would represent a step outside of the comfort zone for ‘AJ’.
On April 29 Joshua went hell-for-leather with heavyweight veteran Klitschko and survived rocky spells, including a heavy knockdown in round six when he looked ready to be taken, to stop the Ukrainian in the 11th round. A rematch is seemingly on the cards, as mentioned above, and would certainly present an enticing proposition.
Deontay Wilder is another name that would garner huge interest in the States. Wilder is known to the hardcore and casual fans and has enjoyed a steady stream of knockout wins over fairly mediocre opposition for someone purporting to be the best heavyweight (holding the WBC version of the titles) but has the power and unorthodox style to cause problems for Joshua if they were to unify. Having won the title against Bermane Stiverne, Wilder showed a different dimension to his game by boxing off the jab but Joshua would easily represent the toughest test of his career.
Joseph Parker is the current WBO champion but on the outside of many conversations at the moment. Not well known enough by UK casuals (and, it can be argued, slightly dangerous as well) and not rated that highly by the majority of hardcores, Parker has blown hot and cold. Knocking out lesser opposition has not been a problem but he looked gassed for a considerable portion of his breakout fight with Carlos Takam, but got the job done eventually. His title winning effort versus podgy slickster Andy Ruiz was extremely close but, again, he got over the line. Parker defends his title in Manchester on September 23 against Hughie Fury and even though I pick Parker to retain successfully, I think he’ll get bumped off before the Joshua fight is made and will then slide back into the pack of contenders. If Hughie won and tried to unify, he would most likely be cannon fodder for Joshua.
Another member of the Fury clan, Tyson Fury, has enjoyed a love-hate relationship with Joshua and, in usual unpredictable Fury fashion, has praised and chastised him in equal measure.
Fury recently announced his retirement yet again but you’d expect him to slim into somewhat reasonable shape for a multi-million dollar payday against the Londoner. The lineal champion, however, has been grossly inactive and is fast becoming an irrelevance.
Luis Ortiz is getting older and slightly less relevant with each passing month. The Cuban bogeyman has some good wins on his record but promotional agreements with Golden Boy and Eddie Hearn have not worked out, but hopefully a link-up with Al Haymon’s PBC outfit will bear fruit. Talk of a fight between Ortiz and Wilder seems fanciful given Wilder’s recent run of opponents.
Alexander Povetkin was once a credible name after clashing with Wladimir Klitschko and knocking out Mike Perez but has been dogged by Performance Enhancing Drug scandals. These issues call into question his biggest wins and previously scuppered a mouth-watering scrap with Deontay Wilder.
David Haye is no longer a viable proposition after losing to Tony Bellew, who is too small for a behemoth like Joshua. Kubrat Pulev has been waiting patiently in line for his IBF title shot but will most likely be paid to stay quiet while Joshua takes on the division’s big guns.
Dillian Whyte, remarkably, continues to be named as a possible rematch opponent for Joshua even though he was knocked out in their ‘beef’ match and has done little since at anything close to world level. Eddie Hearn does love a grudge Pay-Per-View match though, so don’t rule him out.