WHO'S NEXT FOR ANTHONY JOSHUA?
By Tom Watt on Aug 4 2017
With Wladimir Klitschko announcing his retirement, the focus of the Heavyweight Boxing World now shifts to who will be the next challenge for Anthony Joshua now the Klitschko rematch is 100% dead and buried. The British sensation has a mandatory IBF defence against Kubrat Pulev which seems most likely, especially if you listen to his promoter Eddie Hearn. The WBA have also ordered he defend his WBA belt against Luis Ortiz and WBC Champion Deontay Wilder would be the obvious big-money unification fight – if the Bronze Bomber decides he wants to face a legitimate opponent. The list does not stop there either, fresh off his victory over Gerald Washington at the weekend ‘Big Baby’ Miller also wants a shot at the Champ. Below we delve into the potential options for ‘AJ’
Kubrat Pulev (25-1-0, 13KOs)
German-based Bulgarian, Kubrat Pulev, has been patiently waiting in his #1 IBF mandatory spot while the potential Klitschko Joshua rematch was discussed, the IBF had given Joshua permission to push back his mandatory provided Pulev was his next opponent and Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn has, on multiple occasions, confirmed that Joshua would not be relinquishing his title and would defend against Pulev. With that in mind, this seems like the most likely of opponents for a November/December date in the UK (most likely at the o2 Arena) while plans for another huge Summer stadium showdown next summer are put together.
Pulev was knocked out by Wladimir Klitschko when he had his first shot at a World Title in late 2014, since then he has picked up several European-level wins including split-decision win over Dereck Chisora to secure the European Title. Whether or not he can pose Joshua any problems is highly doubtful, but if Joshua wants to unify the division he will need to take on his mandatories and doing so in the winter would free him up to fight a big name next Summer.
Luis Ortiz (27-0-0, 23 KOs)
The WBA have just ordered negotiations to begin for this fight as they had originally requested the winner of the Joshua Klitschko’s first fight would face Ortiz within 120 days, with 95 days having passed since then, the WBA have notified them that if no agreement is made, the fight will go to Purse Bids in 30 days. Whether or not Joshua can apply for an exception while he defends his IBF belt is yet to be seen. There has been very little talk from Joshua’s team about Ortiz and it seems this fight isn’t on top of their wish-list right now, what this may mean is Ortiz fights for a vacant belt and sets up a unification further down the line.
In terms of styles this would undoubtedly be a fantastic match-up, 2 hard-hitting knockout artists with fearsome reputations and heavy hands – if and when we eventually see this fight, don’t expect it to go for too many rounds.
Deontay Wilder (38-0-0, 37 KOs)
Since winning the WBC Title from Bermane Stiverne in early 2015, the ‘Bronze Bomber’ has fought in a series of uninspiring Title defences with challengers just inside the top 10, a unification fight with Anthony Joshua would be a big step up both in terms of opposition and public interest but there has been very little comment or commitment from the Alabama-native over a fight with ‘AJ’. Joshua’s promoter, Eddie Hearn, has also put forward what he described as ‘very large’ offers for Wilder to fight Dillian Whyte as a way to build the American’s profile in the UK ahead of a huge unification but was knocked back.
It seems, that at least for now, Wilder is happy to keep hold of his belt and fight out of Alabama against mediocre opposition. However, with Klitschko now out of the picture, and both men holding World Titles, undefeated records and outrageous knockout percentages , it is a fight that fans will eventually demand to see, perhaps one for Summer 2018.
Jarrell ‘Big Baby’ Miller (19-0-1, 17 KOs)
Miller picked up an impressive win over Gerald Washington on the undercard of Broner v Garcia, forcing the former World Title Challenger to retire in the corner just 5 months after being knocked out by Deontay Wilder. That win, plus the American’s brash talking, has put his name amongst the contenders for a shot at World Title, although Washington aside he has proven very little. – His last win prior to Washington was over Fred Kassi in 2016. There has been talks about a Dillian Whyte and Jarrell Miller showdown over the last few weeks, there’s no doubt this would be highly entertaining fight and with the possible carrot of a fight with Anthony Joshua for the winner, it’s a very real possibility. However, it would be a huge surprise if he jumped the queue and secured a lucrative fight with the undefeated Britain before then.