What next for world boxing champion Anthony Joshua?


LAST SATURDAY’S thrilling Wembley victory over Wladimir Klitschko, in front of a post-war British record 90,000 fans, leaves former Olympic champion Anthony Joshua unbeaten in 19 fights as a professional now holder of the WBA and IBF world champion.

In stopping the most dominant heavyweight of this century, the question now for Joshua is who will he fight next?

The champion’s promoter, Eddie Hearn, has been hitting the phones since Saturday night to make sense of a complicated landscape, but the odds are Joshua will not fight again until October.

Matching an event as iconic as last week’s which delivered an expected pay day of 15 million pounds and finding an opponent capable of competing, looks a tall order in the short-term.
However this hasn’t stopped the big names lining up to challenge Boxing’s latest hero.

First to throw his hat into the ring was Tyson Fury, who tweeted a provocative message after the match from his twitter account @tyson_fury, which read: “Well done @anthony fJoshua, good fight, you had life & death with @klitschko & I played with the guy, let’s dance “

Joshua did hit the canvas hard before toppling Klitschko, whereas Fury ducked, weaved and earned a comfortable points win by comparison in 2015.

Fury who would understandably be Joshua’s preferred option stoked the fire a little further on Monday by claiming: “I can beat AJ with one arm tied behind my back. I don’t even need a warm-up.”

Meanwhile, Anthony Joshua had already tweeted a message to Fury which read, “Fury, where you at baby?”

The truth remains that, substantially overweight and devoid of a boxing licence, former world champion Fury will likely need time and a warm-up bout before meeting the IBF and WBA champion.

Other options are WBC champion Deontay Wilder who warned Joshua not to get “comfortable, I’m coming for you.”

Wilder’s lack of appeal in the UK presents a difficulty, so he would probably needs at least one more fight as he is not at the stage of his career to hold pay-per-view stature yet.

Wladimir Klitschko too, confirmed he holds a rematch option, adding that he believes the champion is “vulnerable” at times.

“I could have done more to finish him off,” said the 41-year-old.

However, Joshua beieves the Ukrainian’s elder brother, Vitali, and his partner, the American actress Hayden Panettiere, will counsel against his continuing in the sport at 41 after taking a heavy beating in the 11th and final round.

Most boxing pundits agree the champion’s next fight will proably be in Madison Square Garden against a lesser challenger, or at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff against WBC champion, Wilder.

Joshua’s rise, after being all-but beaten in the sixth round, to administer a devastating uppercut and finish in the 11th, wowed the world of boxing. American viewers tuned in and lapped up the destruction.

Legendary boxers Sugar Ray Leonard and Evander Holyfield were just some of those tweeting praise, while promoter Eddie Hearn believes his fighter’s profile is now “stratospheric”, adding: “He is unquestionably world boxing’s biggest star.”

His standing as a marketable asset for more than a dozen global brands brings closer his ambition to become boxing’s first billionaire, while it also heaps pressure on his broad shoulders.

“The win accelerates him to be one of the world’s most sought-after major properties,” said sports marketing expert Alun James, UK chief executive at Four Sports and Sponsorships.

“A YouGov survey showed 20% of the UK population have a favourable view of him. That is a very good number for boxing, which is not a mainstream sport.

“Because he’s a young black man, he also allows brands to extend into demographics they haven’t worked in before. He’s already working with brands from Asia to the US, the UK and Dubai.

“I think he will certainly be the richest boxer ever and probably surpass Floyd Mayweather, who set the benchmark.”

The champion himself said The champion said: “I showed that fights are won in the gym. It gets tough and boxing isn’t easy. You have to have the whole package.”

With every passing punch, he looks just that.

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