The fire of excitement surrounding London 2012 gold medallist Anthony Joshua, from both the hardcore fight fans and those who follow the sport a little less closely, has been burning intensely for months now – and following his seemingly effortless destruction of Kevin Johnson last weekend, expectation and interest in the Watford star has reached a career high level.
Arguably the freshest, strongest and most talented heavyweight prospect that the UK has seen since the days of Lennox Lewis (who won his Olympic gold for Canada), those growing more and more convinced he will – over the next 18 months/2 years – develop into the finished article, are now left with an awkward situation on their hands, asking the same questions as promoter Eddie Hearn.
What to do next for the 25 year old future star without being TOO ambitious. There really aren’t masses of options.
Johnson, who had never previously been stopped, failed to deliver on his promise of taking AJ deep – and the dominant and effortless way in which he dispatched of the American has got many thinking that if the ‘L’ plates are indeed off, it’s time now to aim much higher up the rankings. And try and find a ‘live’ body. Someone who can get beyond the 3rd would be a good fight in simplistic terms.
It’s a delicate balancing act. And one Liverpool’s David Price failed at when he was knocked out twice on the spin by wily old American veteran Tony Thompson in 2013 after a similar number of fights
It’s important to maintain a sense of realism over the situation also and social media has been alight with suggestions as to who will face Joshua next, with Sky Sports conducting an online poll and the potential answers bordering from the realistic and exciting, to the damn right ludicrous.
He was penciled in before the Johnson fight to box on July 18th in Manchester and Eddie Hearn has gone on record to state that on September 12, he is planning big things for Joshua, fighting back at the O2 again in what will likely be another bumper PPV card.
A Commonwealth title fight with Australia’s Lucas Browne is a great option. As is a fight with David Price, who has today pulled out of this month’s planned UK ring return injured – yet during an interview with Sky Sports News, big Josh has given his clearest hint yet that old amatuer foe Dillian Whyte – who beat him en route to getting the win in a scrappy amateur bout 6 long years ago – is a serious name in the frame to fight him.
The pair have traded barbs and insults over twitter and with Dillian coming back from a recent injury – and hopefully making an announcement on his promotional future soon, this fight has certainly got all the warmer since last Saturday.
Asked when the fans will see him tested, a supremely confident Joshua said;
“They’re not gonna see that. There not gonna see it. Because I’m gonna keep on working hard and anyone that thinks they’ll be able to test me, I’ll put them in their place.”
Purse bids for Tyson Fury v Dillian Whyte were ordered for the British title recently and with Fury now set to vacate to chase Klitschko and allow the likes of AJ to step in – Joshua v Whyte in September is more than likely in anyone’s eyes.
Of the famous Lonsdale belt and the perceived beef between himself and Whyte, Joshua said;
“I’d love that (fight). (And) I’d really love that Lonsdale belt. I said that from the start and if the opportunity presents itself – I’d rather get that sooner rather than later.”
“I don’t really get why he (DW) is so angry but so be it. When you have got a victory over someone, you should feel proud of yourself. I don’t have a grudge against anyone. My biggest competitor is myself and I’ve no worries about Dillian. But I’m not going to entertain negative energy.”
“He’s got power, he’s undefeated and he’s very hungry but when(ever) I get in that ring I’m going to prove to everyone why they call me the future of the (heavyweight) division. I know it’s going to get tougher at some stage.”
And it would seem many other fighters are backing Joshua to dominate in years to come – including dominant, long time lineal champion Wladimir Klitschko, who said via boxing news online;
“I believe the future belongs to Anthony Joshua. I haven’t seen an athlete as athletic, as big, as fast and as talented as Anthony and if he’s going to continue the way he is – developing himself, then the future belongs to him.”
High praise indeed.