What’s Next for Anthony Joshua?
Straight after claiming Charles Martin’s (23-1-1, 21 KOs) IBF world Heavyweight title on Saturday, April 9, Anthony Joshua’s (16-0, 16 KOs) first defense will likely be on July 9, as per promoter Eddie Hearn.
Who his foe will be, however, remains unclear, when surveying the current schedule of the world’s reputable heavyweights.
Touted bouts against countrymen David Haye (27-2, 25 KOs) and lineal champion Tyson Fury (25-0, 18 KOs) are not imminent for the near future.
Haye has a scheduled fight on May 21, and Fury is adhering to Klitschko’s rematch clause by fighting him on July 9.
As a consequence, credible opponents for the aforementioned return of Joshua seem to be miniscule in quantity. Fury is certainly ruled out, due to fighting on the same date.
As for Haye, it is highly doubtful he’d return as soon as July 9, even if he wins quickly against unknown Arnold Gjergjaj (29-0, 21 KOs). What’s more, Haye seems like he will fight Shannon Briggs (59-6-1, 52 KOs) after May 21.
Moving onto the WBC champion, Deontay Wilder (36-0, 35 KOs), he is also occupied. Wilder will be travelling to Russia to face mandatory challenger Alexander Povetkin (30-1, 22 KOs) on the same day as Haye’s bout.
In what should be called “Heavyweight day,” May 21 also determines the mandatory challenger for Joshua’s new IBF title. Joseph Parker (18-0, 16 KOs) will face Carlos Takam (33-2-1, 25 KOs) for this accolade.
With the IBF most likely demanding the mandatory defense in late 2016, it is safe to assume that Joshua will most likely be paired against someone from the top 15 of the IBF rankings, which will be sanctioned as a voluntary defense.
Moving the fighters who have bouts scheduled aside, the IBF’s top 15 only has two contenders who are free (as of April 9).
These contenders are Dominic Breazeale (17-0, 15 KOs) and former WBC champion Bermane Stiverne (25-2-1, 21 KOs).
Evidently, Joshua-Stiverne seems like a feasible matchup out the two fighters, and has credibility due to Stiverne being a former champion.
This also correlates with Eddie Hearn’s plan for Joshua, which was to have several voluntary defenses before attempting to unify the division.
Furthermore, Stiverne was a prospective opponent for Joshua earlier this year, before the Charles Martin fight was signed.
Nonetheless, it cannot be overstated that the future is exciting for Anthony Joshua, and the Heavyweight division as a whole.
With Joshua’s obvious marketing power, and his growing reputation in the United States, it is obvious that he is going to be headlining gigantic fights in the future.
Photos by Matchroom Boxing