FOLLOWING Anthony Joshua’s knockout of Kubrat Pulev, everyone wants to see the WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight champion take on his WBC counterpart Tyson Fury next. This all-British showdown for the undisputed heavyweight crown is simply the biggest fight that can be made in the sport today. Unfortunately, however, the biggest fights don’t always happen in boxing, with money and politics often proving difficult obstacles to overcome.
WBO President Paco Valcarcel has already indicated that Joshua must fulfil his mandatory obligation against former all-conquering cruiserweight king Oleksandr Usyk, otherwise he will be at risk of being stripped of the WBO belt. Although Joshua vs Usyk would not be as big a fight as Joshua vs Fury, it is still an extremely intriguing pairing nonetheless.
Ignoring the political manoeuvrings that regularly blight boxing, below we pick out the top five next opponents for Joshua, in an ideal world.
1. Tyson Fury
Imagine 90,000 people packed into Wembley Stadium to witness Joshua vs Fury for the undisputed world heavyweight title. It seems a world away at the moment, what with the coronavirus pandemic, but it is the dream for all boxing fans.
2. Oleksandr Usyk
While Joshua was winning super-heavyweight gold at the 2012 Olympics, Usyk was doing likewise in the division below. The Ukrainian’s talent is unquestionable, but it remains to be seen whether he can thrive when up against men who are substantially bigger than him, such as Joshua.
3. Joe Joyce
He may not yet have the name value of the other fighters on this list, but Joyce would certainly provide Joshua with a very tough assignment. The two towering Brits have sparred many rounds together in the past, and with Joyce’s incredible engine and iron chin, he would fancy his chances of wearing Joshua down.
4. Deontay Wilder
Wilder has taken a lot of criticism since being halted by Fury in their rematch earlier this year, but whatever you say about him, one thing is undeniable – he possesses the fight-ending power to wreck any heavyweight. With Joshua having been dropped and stopped before, Wilder’s dynamite fists would pose a serious threat.
5. Dillian Whyte
Whyte and Joshua have been embroiled in a bitter, well-documented feud since their amateur days, which led to a rip-roaring scrap five years ago, when they were both making their way up the heavyweight ladder as pros. Whyte was beaten via stoppage in that bad-tempered clash, and he would relish the opportunity for revenge.