After overcoming his biggest professional challenge yet, Olympic gold medalist Anthony Joshua has cemented himself as a genuine threat in the Heavyweight division after a devastating seventh round knockout of the previously undefeated Dillian Whyte.
In front of a sold out o2 Arena crowd in London, Joshua took seven rounds to figure out an awkward and uncompromising Whyte but eventually wore down the stocky power puncher and dropped him with a brutal uppercut halfway through the seventh round.
It was the culmination of a couple of round’s worth of punishment for Whyte as he eventually succumbed to Joshua’s onslaught as the Commonwealth champion extended his unbeaten record to 15-0.
Joshua’s win has caught the attention of a couple of Heavyweights and has set up a number of intriguing match-ups within the division. Here we look at some of the possible candidates for Joshua’s next fight.
Pound-for-pound the best boxer in the division, Wilder has developed a fierce reputation for being one of the most powerful punchers in boxing, accumulating an impressive 35-0 record with 34 knockouts. A Bronze medalist at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Wilder has had an incredibly successful pro career with some big wins over Audley Harrison, Malik Scott and Bermane Stiverne to name a few.
Wilder would probably be too much of a jump for Joshua at this stage of his career but would present an intriguing match-up nonetheless, as Wilder’s 6ft 7in frame and 83-inch reach would nullify Joshua’s length and range.
If, for some reason, Tyson Fury’s rematch with Wladimir Klitschko falls through, then the next big fight for Fury is undoubtedly Joshua at this stage. After upsetting Klitschko in Dusseldorf two weeks ago, Fury is the biggest name in boxing as we enter the post-Mayweather era and a potential fight with Joshua would be very lucrative and would generate massive interest in the UK.
Fury’s rematch with Klitschko has been confirmed for sometime in 2016 but you can bet that Fury and Joshua will cross paths at some stage should both fighters remain undefeated.
One of the few fighters Haye respects in the Heavyweight division, a Joshua-Haye bout would be a mouthwatering prospect for boxing fans as Joshua’s length and accuracy would be tested by Haye’s speed and volume.
The ‘Hayemaker’ is set to return to the ring early next year against Mark De Mori and should he prevail victorious he could have a fight with Joshua waiting in the pipeline. Haye would be a huge step up from Joshua’s previous opponents and after his brutal knockout of Whyte, there’s only so much longer Joshua will wait before making the step up.
A fighter that would present many of the same obstacles as Whyte, Chisora is a respected figure within British Boxing and will put bums on seats even if he fails to live up to the challenge. Chisora would mark another stepping stone for Joshua with a bout between the two providing ‘AJ’ with an opportunity to improve on some of the deficiencies shown in the fight with Whyte.
‘Del Boy’ is riding a four-fight win streak and has won nine of his last ten fights with his only loss coming at the hands of Fury, who won by technical decision at the Docklands last year. Chisora is the most realistic possibility of the aforementioned for Joshua and could very well be his next fight if a rematch with Whyte cannot be arranged.
A rematch was not the first thing many of us thought when we saw Whyte dangling through the ropes with his mouthguard starting to slide down his lips, but apart from being knocked out, Whyte presented Joshua with his most difficult challenge yet and had at one stage rocked the champion in the second round. The theatrics at the conclusion of the first and Whyte’s failure to hang around at the end when Joshua had his hand raised shows that there is still a lot of bad blood that exists between the two and a rematch may be a more realistic proposition than many would think.
While there will still be many people that will want to see Joshua face a bigger test, if that challenge cannot be found in the short term there’s no reason why Eddie Hearn cannot get the band back together and reproduce what was a very entertaining fight.
While Joshua’s knockout erased any doubt as to who was the better fighter, ‘AJ’ may feel like he could’ve put him away a little sooner and may want the opportunity to prove it.
Jack O’Toole, Pundit Arena