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.
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.
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.
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.
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.