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Anthony Joshua: Who’s Next for the New Unified Heavyweight Champion?

 

On Saturday, March 31, 2018, Anthony Joshua (21-0, 20 KOs) remained undefeated with a unanimous-decision win over WBO champion Joseph Parker (24-1, 18 KOs).

The scorecards were in wide favor of Joshua, 118-110 twice and  119-109. With the victory, Joshua improved his record to 21-0 with 20 KOs and has added the WBO belt to his WBA, IBF and IBO titles.

For Joshua, this leaves only one belt left to obtain and become the undisputed Heavyweight champion. Joshua has three options for his next opponent. They include Deontay Wilder, Tyson Fury or a top 10 ranked Heavyweight.

Deontay Wilder (40-0 39 KOs) is the WBC Heavyweight champion. A unification fight with Wilder is the biggest fight on the table and in the sport at the moment. Wilder has called out Joshua on multiple occasions, and during the post-fight interview on Saturday night, Joshua returned the favor by screaming, “Wilder, let’s go baby, let’s go!”

This fight is no longer a matter of if it will happen, but now when it will happen and where. Joshua said the fight has to take place in the United Kingdom, something Wilder hasn’t shied away from in the past.

Fury (25-0, 18 KOs), the former WBO, WBA, IBF Heavyweight champion, is another possible opponent for Joshua. Fury hasn’t fought since being suspended in 2016 due to drug and medical issues. Fury is looking to make his comeback and wants it to be a statement. He has trash talked both fighters on their disappointing performances. Fury sees himself easily winning a fight with Wilder or Joshua.

Joshua didn’t impress against Joseph Parker. This can be a cause for concern that makes promoter Eddie Hearn give Joshua one more fight before the mega fights with  Fury or Wilder.

Two names that are other possible opponents are Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller (20-0-1, 18 KOs) and Alexander Povetkin (34-1, 24 KOs). Povetkin ranks No. 1 in the WBA and WBO, as well as fourth in WBC and fifth in the IBF rankings.

Miller is ranked third in three of the four sanctioning bodies; WBA, WBO and IBF. A ranked contender that would be a notch underneath Wilder would be a smart play if Joshua feels he needs one more fight before taking on the WBC champion.

Anthony Joshua is the biggest draw in the Heavyweight division. Joshua took no damage on Saturday night and will be ready for his next challenge. Expect Joshua to have a fight date in late 2018 with one of the mentioned opponents on his home turf in the UK.

 

Header photo by Esther Lin/Showtime

 

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