Who will Conor McGregor’s next boxing opponent be?

The dust has settled following the highly-billed ‘money’ fight between Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather, making it a good time to reflect on what the sport of boxing may hold in store for Conor McGregor – or should that be: what Conor McGregor may hold in store for the sport of boxing?

UFC’s star fighter is expected to return to the Octagon in the coming months – likely to finally defend his lightweight belt. But McGregor seems keen on a return to the boxing ring. And he certainly won’t be short of potential suitors for a bout – with a big pay cheque set to land in the gloves of any opponent.

So, who could Conor McGregor face next in the ring?

Oscar De La Hoya

One of the most surprising names to pop up in recent weeks was 44-year-old Oscar De La Hoya, who was bold enough to claim he would knock McGregor out inside two rounds of any boxing match.

The Mexican, who was convincingly beaten by Manny Pacquiao in his last fight back in 2008, said, “I still have it in me. I’ve been secretly training, secretly training. I’m faster than ever and stronger than ever. I know I can take out Conor McGregor in two rounds.”

de la hoya

Tipsters have the pair closely matched up in any potential contest, according to the up to date sports blog at Sportsbet.McGregor would be wary of becoming an exhibition fighter if he took up De La Hoya’s advances though, as two fights – let alone two defeats – against two previously long-retired fighters, is hardly a glittering start to a career.

Paulie Malignaggi

Paulie has been desperately trying to stir up public interest in a contest with McGregor ever since the pair’s infamous sparring session in the build-up to the Mayweather-McGregor match.

A former WBA welterweight champion with a 36-8 record, Paulie Malignaggi has his best days well behind him at 36 years of age, and it could prove to be a very winnable contest for McGregor.

However, if McGregor were to lose to Malignaggi, it would surely prove a fatal blow to any hope of a successful career in boxing. So, unless he is desperate to clear up the knockdown/push debate once and for all, it’s not clear what Paulie has to offer Conor.

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Title Shot

Having faced one of the greatest of all-time, a controversial title shot would surely be the greatest appeal for Conor McGregor to return to boxing – especially if he wishes to be taken seriously by the sport itself.

The light-middleweight (154lb) division would be his best bet, which currently boasts no less than five current title holders: Erislandy Lara, Brian Castaño, Jermell Charlo, Jarrett Hurd and Miguel Cotto.

Surely one of the champions would be up for a big money fight in what would be deemed a relatively “easy” contest against boxing novice McGregor.

Four biggest bouts for heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua

World heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua has undoubtedly become the biggest and most high-profile name in the sport of boxing within recent months. 

The unified IBF, WBA and IBO titlist has shot to immense stardom thanks mainly to his impressive and dramatic stoppage success over Ukrainian legend Wladimir Klitschko back in April. That 11th-round knockout triumph over the previously dominant heavyweight force saw ‘AJ’s’ mass appeal rocket in the UK and beyond.

Joshua’s most-recent outing was supposed to have been against tough Bulgarian Kubrat Pulev, but an untimely injury forced a change of opponent at the last minute. His promoter Eddie Hearn had a back-up on hand in the form of Carlos Takam, though, who stepped up to the plate and produced a gallant performance. 

The reigning champion did manage to defend his belts with another stoppage success, but Takam was admirable in defeat as he pushed the Briton all the way before the referee jumped in and controversially called a halt to proceedings in the 10th round.  There are now plenty more prosperous options on the horizon for Joshua, who will be penned as a favourite in each of his proposed fights with free bets available from odds comparison providers Oddschecker.

So, ahead of what could be the defining year of his already glowing early career, here are four potential big-name foes for Joshua in the near future. 

Tyson Fury

First off is the one that fans in the UK have been getting excited about for a long time already. Tyson Fury was the man who finally dethroned Klitschko back in November 2015 when he supremely outpointed the Ukrainian legend.

Over 12 rounds in Germany, where ‘Dr Steelhammer’ had reigned for so long, the Manchester-born fighter rallied to a unanimous decision victory, one of the most iconic in British boxing history. But he soon tailed off and endured a torrid time in light of his greatest ever success. 

With several years gone by after his win and having been pushing for a showdown with ‘AJ’, if the two were to finally meet in the UK, it could become a record-breaking event. If the 90,000 fans at Wembley for the Klitschko fight was special, this could easily surpass that in 2018 or beyond. 

Deontay Wilder

deontay

While Fury has been inactive for personal and legal reasons in recent years and is clearly too unfit to box anytime very soon, the most logical super-fight to make for Joshua is against American world heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder.

The brash-talking fighter currently holds the prestigious WBC strap and has long talked up a high-profile unification clash with his British rival. After Hearn agreed a deal with United States broadcasters Showtime, on which Joshua’s fights in the UK are shown to the American audience, such a meeting would be huge. 

‘AJ’ is already a household name but an American debut in Las Vegas, perhaps, would be a mammoth event and one that could rocket his credibility and stature within the sport even further. A knockout of Wilder would also cement him as the best heavyweight on the planet for sure. 

Joseph Parker

Another potential unification in Joshua’s pursuit of all of the heavyweight crowns is with New Zealand star Joseph Parker. The hard-hitting Kiwi recently overcome Tyson Fury’s cousin Hughie in their Manchester match-up, albeit in a very drab affair. 

But a showdown with ‘AJ’ would surely be a much more exciting clash, probably in London. Parker presently holds the WBO belt and has become a big name back in his home nation, making this another potentially giant heavyweight collision. 

The also unbeaten champion has not been scared in calling the Briton out, despite a significant size difference between the pair, and this is one that could be made for early next year if negotiations go according to plan for both parties involved. 

David Haye

Finally, a clash with fellow Briton David Haye has long been on the cards and would be another super-bout to make for both men. Having been previously quite close mates while Haye was the big name and champion, while ‘AJ’ was only rising up the ladder, there’s an interesting narrative here. 

Of course, any possible meeting between the pair would depend on Haye getting the better of Tony Bellew in their anticipated rematch this December. If he can oust the Merseysider this time out, then a Joshua bout may be his reward further down the line.

Whichever of these fighters secure the big-ticket bill and manages to set up the biggest fight of 2018 with Joshua will take home an enormous purse after a career-defining battle. Whether Joshua’s star continues to rise remains to be seen.

What next for Anthony Crolla after Ricky Burns win?

After securing a unanimous decision victory over Ricky Burns in Manchester in his last fight, there are a host of options ahead for former WBA lightweight world titleholder Anthony Crolla.

The Scottish challenger and three-weight world titlist appealed for a rematch due to the closeness of the initial encounter, but Crolla is likely to opt for a different path in the coming months given the stage of his career.

There are plenty of superb upcoming bouts on the horizon still in 2017, including the big one between Vasyl Lomachenko and Guillermo Rigondeaux in December. In this first-ever battle between the multiple-time Olympic Gold medallists, it’s Ukrainian Lomachenko who will enter as the 1/6 favourite in the latest boxing odds.

As well as this, David Haye takes on Tony Bellew once again, while Crolla will likely have to wait until the New Year for his next career outing. But who will it be against? Here are some potential options for the Mancunian. 

Luke Campbell

campbell

2012 Olympic gold medallist Luke Campbell endured an emotional outing last time out, as he was outpointed by classy Venezuelan Jorge Linares to suffer only his second professional defeat.

The Yorkshireman had to deal with the death of his father during his training camp for the fight, as he sadly passed away only two weeks before Campbell took to the ring.

Hull’s talented fighter has called for a sensational rematch with the South American, but a lightweight title eliminator meeting with Crolla would be an attractive bout for both men in their pursuit of honours. 

Ricky Burns rematch

There weren’t many complaints when the scores were read aloud at the Manchester Arena, with Crolla getting the nod from the judges on home soil. Burns thought he had done enough, but a close clash was always likely to go in favour of the home fighter in this instance.

There are many more intriguing bouts now on the horizon for the victor, as he attempts to regain a world title and make some more money before calling it a day. But a rematch in Scotland with Burns will always be on the table as both men share Eddie Hearn as a promoter. 

Terry Flanagan

An all-Manchester match between Crolla and Terry Flanagan has been on the cards for quite some time now. Manchester City supporter Flanagan holds the WBO lightweight title and is an undefeated world champion who has struggled to nail down the big-name opportunities. 

Contesting fellow Mancunian and Manchester United fan Crolla in their own backyard would be a huge event. It’s another chance for Crolla to try and win a world crown too, though there’s a difference in promoters here which may cause a hold-up. 

Jorge Linares trilogy 

How about a third meeting with Linares? The South American has dispatched several Britons in his career of late.

Linares has overcome Crolla twice already, both times coming in Manchester, with the second being a world-class performance. It’s clear that the London-based world champion has Crolla’s number but a trilogy fight may be of interest still if the money and conditions are right. Watch this space!