So many people were eagerly awaiting the decision from Wladimir Klitschko on whether he would trigger the rematch clause within the contract he had with Anthony Joshua, and so many were desperately hoping he would because their first fight produced so many fireworks. But, much to the disappointment of everyone within the boxing community, Klitschko made the admirable decision to hang up his gloves and pursue different ventures within his life. And, amongst all of the disappointment, everyone respected his decision and commended him on the remarkable achievements he accomplished during his long career, especially during that lengthy reign as heavyweight champion of the world.
Now though, Anthony Joshua must continue his own journey and attempt to do what Klitschko did so successfully; dominate the heavyweight division. Although Joshua is the type of character within the sport of boxing to accept a fight with anyone, anywhere, it is the responsibility of his close-knit team and his promoter, Eddie Hearn, to guide him down the correct path. So, now that he holds the IBF, WBA Super and IBO belts, AJ and his team have the task of navigating their way through boxing politics, such as dealing with mandatory challengers, whilst also feeding the fans excitement by participating in the biggest fights out there. During an in-depth interview with IFL TV, Eddie Hearn revealed the immediate journey for AJ, and highlighted the next 3 fights he has in mind for the heavyweight champion of the world.
Considering the Joshua camp has already received two special exceptions from the IBF to delay the fight with its mandatory, once for a voluntary defence against Eric Molina and another for the colossal fight with Klitschko, it’s now time for him to encounter Kubrat Pulev. Pulev has been mandatory challenger for the IBF strap for some time now, and will finally get his chance to obtain the title later this year. Although venues in Las Vegas were lined up in preparation for the Klitschko fight; the Principality Stadium in Cardiff has become favourite to host the showdown with Pulev, and could see 74,500 people pack into the arena in October. When quizzed about the Pulev fight, Hearn told Sky Sports, “Yeah we know it’s going to be Kubrat Pulev. It’s just a case of whether that fight’s going to be at the Principality Stadium, or that fight’s going to be at Las Vegas.”
Following on from the fight with Kubrat Pulev, the next step of the journey will be an encounter with WBA mandatory challenger Luis Ortiz. Also known by the moniker King Kong, Luiz Ortiz is a dangerous competitor and could prove to be a huge test for Anthony Joshua. As the WBA ordered the AJ to defend his strap against Ortiz, an agreement will need to be made with the challengers’ team within the coming weeks to avoid being stripped of the title. However, if the negotiations go swimmingly with the unbeaten Cuban, the fight could take place in early 2018. Joshua’s promoter, Eddie Hearn, once again commented on the situation, saying “Luis Ortiz, the WBA have just called a mandatory on AJ for him. We’re going to have to fight Luiz Ortiz after Kubrat Pulev.”
It’s the third fight in AJ’s upcoming potential schedule that is most exciting. Providing AJ retains his belts, and Deontay Wilder still has his WBC title, a colossal unification bout could take place between the pair in the summer of 2018. Now, recently there has been a lot of hype around Dillian Whyte and Deontay Wilder; with Whyte wanting a shot at his title and Wilder seemingly outpricing himself. But, amongst all of that, Wilder stated he didn’t want an unnecessary fight with Whyte and would love a huge unification fight with AJ instead, and Joshua has already stated he wants to establish a legacy and be a part of the biggest fights, so this encounter is sure to happen. With 37 knock-outs from 38 consecutive wins, Wilder would be a formidable opponent, but many scrutinize the record of The Bronze Bomber and conclude that he hasn’t fought anyone of note other than Bermaine Stiverne. Whereas Joshua, who is still relatively inexperienced, was involved in that magnificent fight with the legend, Wladmir Klitschko, in front of 90,000 fans and millions around the globe.
At the end of the day, AJ has still got to manoeuvre his way through his mandatory challenges and Eddie Hearn and the Joshua camp have got the smartly deal with the politics side of boxing. For the excitement of boxing, let’s keep our fingers crossed for the unification fight between Joshua and Wilder in the middle of 2018.