IBF heavyweight champ Anthony Joshua would like to have another fight this year, before facing his mandatory challenger Joseph Parker early on next year. Joshua and his team must start negotiations with Team-Parker by November 9, with the fight likely to take place around March time, but Joshua has spoken of wanting to get another voluntary defence in first, in November or December. And Matchroom chairman Barry Hearn told Sky Sports he feels A.J will indeed slot one more fight in before taking on Parker.
Hearn said the fight he himself would like to see is Joshua against former WBC ruler Bermane Stiverne. Hearn also said the idea of a Joshua-Hughie Fury all-British clash appeals to him.
“Parker may well be next but I suspect, probably, Joshua will have another defence prior,” Hearn told Sky Sports. “There’s a whole range of names out there – whether you’re talking Stiverne, Eric Molina. Stiverne is probably my number one choice because of his credibility. I’d like to see Hughie Fury step up and have a go! They’re two undefeated fighters and it’s a fight that would sell to the British public. There’s a lot of choice.”
Fans want to see Joshua in the massive fights, against the likes of Deontay Wilder, Tyson Fury and David Haye, but at still only 17-0, Joshua needs further experience – as he himself acknowledges – first. Stiverne hasn’t done too much since losing a competitive 12-round decision to Wilder, who took his belt in January of 2015. Fighting just once since – winning a hard fought ten-round unanimous decision over Derric Rossy, during which the 37-year-old Haitian suffered a knockdown – Stiverne did not look good. Still, as a voluntary defence by Joshua, Stiverne makes sense. He has a good record at 25-2-1(21) and he is the only man to have taken KO King Wilder the distance.
The promotional angle for a Joshua defence against Stiverne would be, can A.J go one better than Wilder and KO Stiverne? Maybe Joshua would indeed score yet another stoppage win, and if he did he would have a good name on his record. Joshua against Hughie Fury would also prove attractive, as Hearn said. If Joshua were to win, by nasty KO especially, big cousin Tyson would want to step in and avenge the family name by taking on Joshua in what would be an even bigger grudge-match than it already is. And of course, Joshua-Fury, or Fury-Joshua, would be an absolute money-spinner here in the UK.
Joshua looks set to improve to 18-0 by the end of 2016, and then he will have his biggest test yet – on paper anyway – against Parker. Assuming he comes through that one okay, the massive fights will be within touching distance for Joshua.