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Anthony Joshua wants the big names to put him back into world title contention

Anthony Joshua

Former undisputed heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua 24-3 (22) has declared he is willing to take on the top guys in the division to get him back into world title contention.

The 33-year-old Brit lost his WBA, WBO and IBF titles to Ukrainian southpaw Oleksandr Usyk 20-0 (13) in September last year. He did slightly better in their immediate rematch in August, losing by split decision by scores of 113-115, 116-112 and 115-113.

Joshua was in negotiations to face WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury 32-0-1 (23) in December, but those negotiations fell apart.

He is now expected to return to the ring in the first quarter of 2023.

Some of the names being considered are Otto Wallin 24-1 (14), Dillian Whyte 28-3 (19) and Filip Hrgovic 15-0 (12).

Swedish southpaw Wallin, 31, proved his mettle against Fury when they clashed three years ago. Although he lost a unanimous decision, he busted up Fury’s right eye, causing a cut that reportedly required 47 stitches.

Longtime WBC mandatory contender Whyte, 35, finally got his chance to face Fury back in April. He was knocked out in six.

Croatian Hrgovic, 30, who goes by the nickname ‘El Animal’, had his first litmus test in his previous outing when he snuck by China’s Zhilei Zhang 24-1-1 (19) by unanimous decision with scores of 115-112, 114-113 and 115-112.

Joshua says he is willing to face any of them to get himself back in the world title mix.

“Yeah I’ll fight Otto. Yeah, I’ll fight Dillian. I’ll fight Hrgovic. I like fighting good opponents. And as much as it’s becoming a champion, I always felt like it was important for me to fight the best in my era,” Joshua told DAZN.

“Because there was this whole stigma about cherry picking. Boxing, if you want to get to get to the top, you have to take risks. Calculated risks, but you definitely have to take risks. And I just like taking risks. It’s not how popular a fighter you are that makes you a good fighter, it’s how good a fighter you are that will make you popular.

“So competing with the best and training for the best has always helped me elevate my game. So yeah, would I fight Wallin? As I said, they may not be the most popular guys on social media, but they’re solid fighters.

“I’m not gonna sit here and I’m not gonna tell you, ‘Nah they’re rubbish’. I’m gonna give them the credit they deserve and I’ll never underestimate anyone I step in the ring with. That’s how we have to think. Everyone is a solid competitor. And that’ll make me raise my game.”