London's Calling But Who Will AJ Step Into The Ring With Next?

The Brit bounced back against Andy Ruiz Jr but now a number of options await
12:43, 09 Dec 2019

After a true boxing masterclass, Anthony Joshua is the heavyweight champion of the world once more. But what comes next for the Brit after gaining revenge over Andy Ruiz Jr in the Saudi rain on Saturday?

In the ring, with the defeated Mexican-American whipping the crowd up for a potential third fight, AJ hinted that they could meet again: “If you heard, we’re gonna do a third,” he said in the centre of the ring.

Given that Ruiz upset the odds in Madison Square Garden back in June and AJ won the rematch in Saudi Arabia, that does leave the scores level at one apiece, but the comprehensive nature of AJ’s win leaves little desire for the two to go head-to-head for a third time.

Joshua will have to fight the mandatory challengers of multiple organisations before looking to unify the division. He will likely need to defend his IBF title against Romanian Kubrat Pulev, who lost his previous shot at the crown against Wladimir Klitschko in 2014. Meanwhile, the WBO could order Joshua to face Oleksandr Usyk, the former undisputed cruiserweight champion who is looking to make waves in the heavyweight division.

A bout against unbeaten Usyk would certainly tantalise a few taste buds as the Ukranian dominated the cruiserweight division and believes he can do the same as he makes the step up.

Another potential opponent is Dillian Whyte, who overcame Marius Wach on the Joshua undercard and was cleared of all wrongdoing by the UK Anti-Doping Agency. After a tough year, it has been suggested that a ‘Battle of Britain’ could well be on the cards between Whyte and Joshua, four years after their first meeting for the British Heavyweight Championship.

AJ handed Whyte the only defeat of his career in that bout, though The Body Snatcher had beaten Joshua as an amateur. A rematch would certainly capture the public’s interest in the capital though.

After Joshua’s American debut fell flat in June, promoter Eddie Hearn had immediately suggested that the Ruiz rematch would be in Britain. With that having gone to Diriyah instead, a homecoming fight now looks to be on the cards. 

“London’s calling, I think,” Joshua said after Saturday’s win. “We’ve been out for a whole year and it’s nice to have a breath of fresh air and good to have a bit of controversy and doubt. It shows British supporters play a big part in my career. When I fight on home soil I can’t lose. I would never turn my back on that.”

However, with his next fight scheduled for April or May, that rules out his preferred destination of Wembley due to end-of-season football finals and preparation for the Euro 2020 finals.

So it is now looking likely that the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium could host its first boxing fight. Having already proved its multi-sport hosting abilities by playing home to the NFL, this could make perfect sense for all involved.

Eddie Hearn is certainly open to it, having said after Joshua’s win: “He does want to box back in the UK.

"We spoke to Spurs about hosting this fight, which they were keen to do, but unfortunately the dates didn't work out. They would be keen to do it and it would be a nice stadium to do it in London."

Whether Andy Ruiz gets his wish of a rematch or we see AJ move on and take on Pulev or Usyk next, 2020 is set to be a huge year for the British boxer. Then, who knows. Maybe we will get a dream unification bout against the winner of Tyson Fury v Deontay Wilder Part 2...

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