While newly crowned IBF champ Anthony Joshua says it’s “cool” to have won his first world title, the unbeaten heavyweight star – already a household name in the UK and closing in on international stardom – insists there is far, far more to come. In fact, the 26-year-old (young for a heavyweight, especially these days) says he wants to fight at the highest level for a further decade; until he turns 35.
Speaking with The Telegraph, A.J said he thinks he will be capable of unifying the heavyweight crown “by the end of 2017.”
“I want to go until I’m 35 – I want to maintain this for a decade,” he said. “I think unifying the titles is possible by the end of 2017. I’m not getting carried away, but I’m slowly building towards it. There’s going to be some tough nights ahead. Let’s see what happens when someone really pushes me.”
So far in his pro career, only one man has managed to push Joshua, this being fellow Brit Dillian Whyte, who staggered Joshua in the early going of their exciting December battle, forcing Joshua to dig deep in coming back to get the 7th-round stoppage win. And fans want to see what will happen if and when someone like a Deontay Wilder, or a Tyson Fury, or a David Haye cracks the new belt holder with a hard left or a right. The “tough nights ahead” that Joshua speaks of could come this year – with speculation already mounting over who Joshua will make his maiden IBF title defence against, with Haye’s name being mentioned frequently – or maybe next year.
As a new champion, Joshua is almost certainly going to be matched “safe” or, if you prefer, “safe and sensible” in his initial, voluntary defence (Joshua, who has been called out by everyone from Malik Scott to Travis Kauffman, spoke, pre-title, of perhaps facing a Scott or a Bryant Jennings or a Hughie Fury in defence number-one) – so the big fights may not come until 2017. But when they do, Joshua says he will “silence these boys.”
Joshua told The Telegraph he must start adding big domestic names to his record – he listed Haye, Fury, David Price and Dereck Chisora as potential foes (and, with all due respect to Price and upcoming European title challenger Chisora, wouldn’t both would make ideal “safe and sensible” challengers in Joshua’s first outing as IBF ruler?) – and that he must then move on to the likes of Deontay Wilder and “all the other challengers abroad.”
Joshua certainly has no lack of great opposition, the kind that will hopefully give us fans some excellent fights, and if he can improve and improve the way he says he can, Joshua might just be able to entertain us, while at the same time prove his greatness over the ten year spell he speaks of. As Eddie Hearn said, the journey has just started, and it seems we are all on board for what looks like being an eventful ride.
Can Joshua become one of the greats he often mentions as his heroes and influences – Ali, Foreman, Holmes, Frazier and Tyson being frequent names on A.J’s lips? It’s still way too early to say, but it’s going to be fun – and expensive (all pay-per-view from now on) – finding out. And speaking of cash, The Telegraph reports that a Joshua-Fury unification clash would generate a staggering £40 million ($56 million)!