By William Hill
Last Updated: 16th December 2020
Anthony Joshua made headlines once again after winning against Kubrat Pulev in the ninth round on Saturday, successfully defending his WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO world heavyweight titles in the process.
Joshua put Pulev to the canvas on a number of occasions in a fight that some critics are praising as his best. The Brit looked impressive as he got the job done, but now Pulev is out of the way, who will be the opponent for Joshua’s next fight?
Will it be the bout that everyone wants to see in Joshua vs Fury, or will he have to face another mandatory challenger first?
Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury are the two best heavyweights in boxing right now and it’s this enormous clash that fans of the sport want to see first. The Gypsy King has looked past Deontay Wilder after defeating the American in their second bout earlier this year. However, Wilder still believes he is owed a third fight with WBC champion Fury, so this will need sorting before anything can be agreed with Joshua. If Fury was to fight Joshua next, the market favours him for victory, with the Gypsy King currently priced at 4/7 to win and Joshua at 11/8.
It is not just noise coming from Fury’s camp, though. Eddie Hearn has stated that talks for the fight could last as little as two days while Joshua asked the crowd if it was the fight they wanted to see on Saturday. Of course, Wembley Arena erupted. Fury was quick to hit out at AJ online as their war of words commenced. It will only be a matter of time to see if Fury is the direction in which Joshua will be going, but the mere thought of it is enough to get even the most casual boxing fan excited.
What would heavyweight boxing be without a mandatory competitor throwing a spanner in the works? Oleksandr Usyk has quickly risen to prominence and has made waves since moving up to the heavyweight division after dominating at cruiserweight. He is currently the WBO’s mandatory challenger and could pull rank over the AJ vs Fury dream fight. A tough competitor, Usyk is a southpaw and can cause any boxer issues. Should he fight AJ, he is 6/4 for victory, with Joshua favourite at 1/2.
Hearn has stated that if they cannot make the Fury fight happen, then they will be certain to fight Usyk. Another option for Joshua, however, is to vacate the WBO belt, something Hearn has alluded to, to enable him to relinquish his duties to fight Usyk before going after the Fury fight. That could well be the viable option, though it would mean the AJ v Fury fight would no longer have undisputed status.
Both bouts would clearly be excellent viewing and it remains to be seen how things will pan out. But one thing is for sure, it’s Fury that fans want to see as the opponent for the next AJ fight.