Who’s next for Anthony Joshua after successful first heavyweight title defence?
Lee Gormley | June 27, 2016
Who’s next for Joshua?
The meteoric rise of Anthony Joshua continued with another dominant outing in London, as the IBF world heavyweight champion successfully defended his title with a seventh-round stoppage of American challenger Dominic Breazeale at the O2 Arena.
Joshua (17-0, 17 KOs) was taken beyond three rounds for only the second time in his professional career by the defiant Californian, with Breazeale withstanding many brutal shots throughout, but the referee was forced to call a halt to proceedings after he was sent crashing the canvas for a second time in the seventh.
Having now retained the crown which he won from Charles Martin in April, Joshua is in the firing line for many top names in the division, and the dominant Briton will have plenty of options once he returns from a boxing break after his latest knockout success.
So who could the IBF world heavyweight champion step into the ring with in the coming months?
The most likely candidate to face Joshua next is New Zealand’s promising heavyweight Parker (19-0 16 KOs), with the 24-year-old being the mandatory challenger to the big Briton’s IBF strap, though he must first overcome Australian Solomon Haumono July 21st.
Undefeated Parker outpointed Cameroon’s Carlos Takam in May to secure himself a shot at the IBF belt, and the hard-hitting Kiwi has already urged Joshua and his promoter Eddie Hearn to get a date set for their showdown.
— Joseph Parker (@joeboxerparker) June 26, 2016
The eager contender is the overwhelming odds-on 1/100 favourite with Coral to get past Haumono in his upcoming warm-up bout, but 16/1 to face a major upset at the hands of the Aussie in Canterbury, as he desires swift negotiations for his title shot.
“I would like to fight him any day. I’m ready to take him when he’s ready to make the fight happen,” said Parker. “It will be an exciting fight, two young heavyweights full of energy and power, and I want to achieve what we have set out to achieve. It will be a very exciting fight for the heavyweight scene.
See you soon London #TEAMPARKER
— Joseph Parker (@joeboxerparker) June 26, 2016
Joshua has his sights set on a future date in the United States, but his mandatory fight could once again be staged in London, having rallied an army of fans to the capital in recent months and a trip to the UK is no problem for his challenger.
“Our team is looking at coming over and we really appreciate all the support we get from the UK,” added Parker.
The return date for Joshua is seemingly set to be in November this year and, with fellow Briton Price (20-3, 17 KOs) having made a welcomed return to the heavyweight scene in May, a domestic match-up on home soil could well be on the cards.
Liverpool fighter Price ended his 10-month absence from the ring with a destructive KO of Vaclav Pejsar inside two rounds and looks to be on the right track to reviving his career under the guidance of trainer Dave Coldwell.
The 32-year-old Merseysider looked on course towards becoming a supreme force in the heavyweight ranks until he suffered back-to-back defeats to Tony Thompson and then Erkan Teper, though both fighters have since failed drugs tests.
— Dave Coldwell (@davidcoldwell) June 26, 2016
Price, standing at a towering 6ft 8in, still holds a burning desire to test himself at the elite level and believes a Joshua bout could occur after building momentum.
“Realistically, it could happen this year if I get a move on and get a couple of fights, because that’s important,” he stated. “I need to keep people talking about me and keep my momentum going.”
Former world heavyweight champion Haye (28-2, 26 KOs) has been pushing for a return to the division’s pinnacle after making his comeback at the start of this year, with the now 35-year-old having halted Mark de Mori and most-recently Arnold Gjergjaj.
Both of his latest bouts have been clear mismatches and he is set to take on brash American veteran Shannon Briggs in October, but Haye is fully confident he has the beating of younger compatriot Joshua, having witnessed the Breazeale stoppage first-hand in London.
“The more I’ve watched him, the more confident I’ve got,” said Haye. “He’s looked better winning his fights in style but the way he’s won them, I don’t believe it’s anywhere near enough to beat me in any way, shape or form.
— Paul Zanon (@PaulZanon1972) June 26, 2016
“I don’t believe he’s anywhere near as fast as I am. I could see every shot coming.”
Haye has looked sharp since returning to the ring, albeit against inferior opposition, but the link-up with newest trainer Shane McGuigan looks to be a huge boost for his career and the former WBA title holder is 15/8 to overcome Joshua in a potential meeting further down the line.
All roads are pointing towards a high-profile heavyweight unification showdown with WBC title holder Wilder (36-0, 35 KOs) for Joshua, following the IBF champion’s recent new deal with Showtime in America and his incredible career surge.
With fans in the States having witnessed Joshua’s latest KO exploits against their very own Breazeale, the Briton’s stock is continuing to rocket and a meeting with ‘the Bronze Bomber’ could fall in the coming months.
Although, Joshua’s team will be keen to delay such a bout on American soil for as long as possible, with it being the biggest marketable match-up and arguably the most dangerous towards his so far flawless streak.
— Deontay Wilder (@BronzeBomber) June 25, 2016
The 30-year-old American champion is keen for proceedings to move swiftly though, as he called Joshua out following the Breazeale bout, but Wilder is first 1/33 to topple Chris Arreola on July 17th, after initially scheduled foe Alexander Povetkin failed a drugs test.
“One of the fights that I’m going to have, I will go there. The person that springs to mind is Wilder,” said Joshua.
“I will definitely be out there making my US debut soon, whether it’s against Wilder or not, I just want to get out there, make my name known because it’s a golden time for boxing again. Let’s start building, hit the big stage.”
After losing his heavyweight crowns to Tyson Fury last November, Ukrainian legend Klitschko (64-4, 53 KOs) was set to face the controversial champion in July, but an ankle injury recently forced their rematch to be postponed to a later date.
Now 40, Klitschko will have to wait even longer to try and avenge that hurtful loss to Fury, but Joshua’s promoter Hearn admitted a bout between his man and the division’s former dominant force could be agreed at some stage.
“It’s a fight we’d love as well, but I’m always reluctant to make a fight of that magnitude in November,” said Hearn.
Fury is injured and rematch postponed. This just means I’ll get my belt a few weeks later.” #NowMoreThanEver
— Klitschko (@Klitschko) June 24, 2016
“He [Joshua] needs a long rest. He needs to go and be a young boy, go and sit on the beach with his mates and mess around. It’s been absolutely relentless.”
A blockbuster bout between Joshua and Fury is potentially the big in the long-term, but both parties will need to continue on winning paths before such a meeting. It’s one the IBF champion would enter as the 8/11 favourite to prevail from after continuing his rampant rise to stardom.