Opinion | Dec 13 2019

Can Anthony Joshua actually become undisputed heavyweight champion?

Anthony Joshua has to hold on the belts he already has as well as snare a bout with the Wilder-Fury winner. Eric Armit casts his eye over the heavyweight division
Anthony Joshua
Mark Robinson/Matchroom Boxing

WITH Anthony Joshua’s victory over Andy Ruiz sanity is restored to the heavyweights, or what passes for sanity. How dare the tubby Andy Ruiz upset the established triumvirate of Joshua, Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury? Now we are back to the status quo where the fate of the long lost title of heavyweight champion of the world will be finally decided when the winner of Wilder vs. Fury II meets Joshua – perhaps next year, perhaps in 2021, perhaps never. But that’s the way the heavyweight division has been pretty well since Fury beat Wlad Klitschko in 2015.

Wilder vs. Fury II looks set for February 22 and Joshua will probably fight again in May. Kubrat Pulev would be the sensible choice for that fight as Olek Usyk would constitute a much higher risk and Joshua needs another fight so that he can sort out whether he is the new Muhammad Ali or the old Sonny Liston.

If Joshua goes for Pulev then I can’t see the WBO waiting whilst Joshua fights Pulev and then later in the year fights the winner of Wilder vs. Fury II. That would mean the WBO mandatory challenger Usyk would have to wait until 2021 for a shot at the title. I believe that the WBO would strip Joshua rather than wait that long – without a sanction fee coming in. The WBA will also have an interest in what happens but if they stripped Joshua for facing the IBF mandatory challenger they would be left with Manuel Charr, holder of their secondary title who has not fought since November 2017, and interim champion Trevor Bryan who has not fought since August 2018. If they matched those two for the title the sanctioning fee would probably be higher than the takings from the fight. They still have Fres Oquendo in their ratings and Fres has not fought since 2014. They should be renamed the World Non-Boxing Association.

Anthony Joshua


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