FROM THE PAPER: Anthony Joshua – what is next?

Photo by Bill / CC BY

By Jack Wynne – Sports Editor

Less than four minutes – that was all it took for boxer Anthony Joshua to become the IBF world heavyweight champion, defeating American Charles Martin inside two rounds.

Joshua, 26 made history that night at the O2 Arena, becoming the fifth-fastest man to claim a world heavyweight title, beating the likes of Lennox Lewis, George Foreman and Muhammad Ali.

Before the bout, there was plenty of criticism directed towards him, many believing it was too early in his career to be fighting for a world title after 15 professional fights.

The bookmakers had put the Watford-born Brit as the favourite but Joshua himself reminded people he was the underdog and Martin was the champion.

In a pre-fight press conference, he drew comparisons with Mike Tyson’s world heavyweight title fight against Trevor Berbick 30 years ago, believing he had the ability to “annihilate” the champion.

He even went so far as to predict he would stop Martin inside six rounds.

Some people might have thought this was overconfident but then you see his record prior to the world title fight of 14 straight knockouts in the first three rounds and realize why he was so assured of victory.

The only fight which saw Joshua still in the ring for longer than nine minutes was the clash with Dillian Whyte for the British heavyweight title.

There was history between these two – Whyte had beaten Joshua in the amateur ranks so there was a score to settle.

Despite rocking Joshua with a few blows early on, Whyte eventually became the 15th fighter to be knocked out, receiving a fatal uppercut in the 7th round.

Less than a fortnight after becoming the new IBF heavyweight world champion, Joshua announced the first defence of his title would be back at London’s O2 in just over nine weeks.

His opponent for the bout on the 25th June is another American, Dominic Breazeale, who is also undefeated with 15 knockouts in his last 17 professional fights.

Although there had been talk of him fighting in Wembley Stadium on the same night as Tyson Fury’s rematch with Vladimir Klitschko, Joshua wanted an earlier date, admitting he felt great.

Eddie Hearn, who is Joshua’s promoter admitted it was good to see him keen to get back into the ring and that most fighters would still be celebrating.

Should AJ negotiate Breazeale, the question on everybody lips is whether he will go on to fight in a unification bout?

Since Fury caused arguably one of the biggest shocks in boxing, defeating Klitschko in Germany to end the Ukrainian’s nine-year reign as champion, there has been demand for Fury and Joshua to lock horns.

Fury does of course have to defend his WBA and WBO belts against Klitschko in Manchester on the 9th July – he was stripped of the IBF after refusing to face mandatory challenger Vyacheslav Glazkoz.

And even then, he may not even been active – the 27-year-old recently admitted he plans to retire after the rematch.

If Joshua and Fury didn’t go head-to-head there is always the possibility of taking on Deontay Wilder, who is the WBC world champion.

The 30-year-old, who has won all 36 of his professional fights, has previously expressed his desire to fight the Watford boxer.

There could even be a few more opponents, both internationally and on the domestic scene, before the Olympic gold medallist goes on to unify the heavyweight division.

David Haye, who came out of retirement at the start of the year to knockout Australia’s Mark de Mori inside the 1st round, has admitted he wants to regain the world heavyweight crown he lost to Klitschko in 2011.

Further afield, there is a possibility he could fight China’s 2008 Olympic silver medallist Zhang Zhilei in the 91,000-capacity Birds Nest Stadium, China.

Zhilei, 33, has maintained an unbeaten record throughout his last eight fights, since basing himself in Las Vegas.

Another prospect who may well cross paths with Joshua in the future is New Zealand’s Joseph Parker.

Parker, 24, is another fighter who is undefeated, winning all 18 of his professional fights but Joshua.

Whoever the opponent might be, don’t expect him to give up his IBF world heavyweight title easily.


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