Is Joshua ready for world’s elite? 

Newly crowned IBF heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua will be looking forward at the prospect of fighting the biggest names in heavyweight boxing. The Brits fight with Charles Martin was business as usual for Joshua, producing a knockout victory in the second round over the American. His record now stands at 16-0, with 16 knockouts, a small number of fights compared to the other boxers in his division. Is sixteen fights too early for the mega fights, or should it be based on quality rather than quantity? No matter what, Joshua has improved since the Dillian Whyte fight, and should be in the same conversation as the top-dogs in the division.  

Boxers such as Deontay Wilder, David Haye and Tyson Fury are engrossing encounters to look forward to in the future. Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn has suggested that he wants AJ to further his name in other countries, the main one being in USA, with companies such as Showtime and HBO being massive in the Western side of the world. Staying put in America, WBC champion Deontay Wilder could be a future bout. Today, this fight in my eyes would be a 50-50 fight, with both men sharing unbeaten records with high KO percentages. Both boxers are undefeated, but Wilder’s record far greater at 36-0, with 35 knockout victories. Wilder, very much like Charles Martin, travels to his opponents country as champion, where he fights Russia’s Alexander Povetkin in Moscow on May 21st. It isn’t a fore gone conclusion that Wilder will beat the Russian, who’s record stands at an impressive 30-1, his only loss falling to the hands of all-time greta Wladimir Klitschko.  

Staying here in Britain, you have the former WBA champion David Haye, who provides a huge amount of experience at this level, having been in the ring with the likes of Klitschko. Having been out of boxing for four years, Haye made a return to the ring earlier this year, when he knocked out Australian Mark De Mori at the O2 Arena in London. Currently at 27-2 with 25 knockouts, Haye will be looking to further this record when he fights the Swiss Arnold Gjergjaj on the same night as Wilder v Povetkin. The age difference between the two British heavyweights is nine years, with Joshua 26 and Haye 35, so this could be a factor should they ever meet. I don’t believe Haye would have the qualities to beat Joshua, and in my opinion, he needs this fight sooner rather than later because Watford-born Joshua can only get better.  

The one boxer that has become the most talked is the heavyweight champion of the world, Tyson Fury. This is a mouthwatering clash that would produce a huge amount of hype, not just in the UK but around the world. This match-up is very different compared to Wilder or Haye, as Fury possesses a very different, awkward style of fighting that Joshua has never faced before. Difficult to land on, the number one ranked heavyweight proved this when he fought Klitschko in late November last year. The Ukrainian found the Mancunian near enough impossible to land on, barley throwing any punches throughout the fight, so how would the inexperienced Joshua cope in the ring with him? Given time, this contest could be seen as a 50-50 fight, depending on the form of the two men closer to fight time. Fury of course has other matters to deal with, the rematch with Klitschko looking to take place at the Manchester Arena on July 9th. Providing nothing goes wrong in the rematch, and both men are still unbeaten around August, the prospect of a unification fight between two Brits is an exhilarating thought, but I would be amazed if Fury and Joshua would lock horns before next year.

These clashes are bound to happen over the coming years, but until then I suspect Joshua will have voluntary defences of his title and will face other mandatary challengers this year. One up and coming prospect is New Zealand’s Joseph Parker, who is 18-0 with 16 knockouts. Parker has revealed in the past that he is interested by an encounter with Joshua, and many people believe this fight could take place later this year. Another fighter that pops up is Dereck Chisora, a potential fight for Joshua on 9th July, the same day for the Fury v Klitschko rematch. However, Chisora is scheduled to fight Kubrat Pulev on May 7th, so something would have to change, but the fact that he is well known here in the UK, this match-up is far from unthinkable. Many people have questioned whether or not there should be a rematch between AJ and Dillian Whyte. These two have created a rivalry thought the years, and produced fireworks during their encounter in December last year. I get the feeling that Joshua is over this now, having called that fight more of a personal mission between himself and Whyte. 40 year old Klitschko’s name has been thrown around in the mixer, but I believe that he will retire if Fury beats him again in July, so there will be no fight with the great heavyweight for Joshua.

Whatever the future holds for Joshua, I am confident that he can fulfil his dreams and ambitions of becoming the unified heavyweight champion. He appears to look like a promising fighter who is vastly improving in each fight he enters. At just 26 years of age, he has a long journey ahead of him in this division. Who knows, could he become one of the greatest of all time? Only time will tell for AJ.  

Written by Joe Dutton

Sources: The Guardian, Sky Sports, The Sun and Mirror

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