In Depth

Anthony Joshua’s next fight: Kubrat Pulev, Oleksandr Usyk or Dillian Whyte at Tottenham?

Spurs stadium is a potential host venue should AJ return to London

It’s less than 48 hours since he won back the world heavyweight belts but speculation has already begun on who Anthony Joshua will fight next. 

The Briton produced a boxing masterclass in his rematch against Andy Ruiz Jr on Saturday evening to reclaim the IBF, WBA and WBO titles. 

Joshua, 30, was declared the unanimous winner with the judges scoring the fight 118-110, 118-110, 119-109 in his favour.

In the ring during the post-fight interviews Joshua and Ruiz Jr spoke about a potential third duel, but according to reports there are a number of different opponents being mentioned for the two-time world champion’s next fight.

Mandatory challengers

According to BBC Sport, the WBO has said that Joshua must now face mandatory challenger Oleksandr Usyk while the IBF mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev is another potential next opponent.

Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn has confirmed to Sky Sports that it is Pulev leading the race for the next fight, which could take place in April or May next year. 

When asked about the decision, Hearn said: “It’s going to have to be quite quickly, because obviously now the vultures will be out, as I would be. I don’t blame them.

“I’ve got to speak to the IBF and the WBO and see who goes first. I think it sounds like it’s the IBF, but we’ll wait for confirmation of that. 

“AJ will want to maintain the belts and if that’s the case, I think it will be Pulev, and then Usyk. I think April or May, that’s a realistic kind of date [for Joshua’s next fight].”

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Is Whyte an option? 

The BBC Radio 5 Live boxing team - Mike Costello, Steve Bunce and Richie Woodhall - all say Dillian Whyte could be Joshua’s first opponent in 2020. 

Whyte beat Joshua as an amateur in 2009 and the British duo fought again in the professional ranks in 2015, with Joshua the victor by a seventh-round knockout. 

BBC boxing expert Bunce said: “Dillian Whyte at Wembley next year makes all the sense in the world. Whyte and Joshua have got an old beef - that’s perfect.”

Homecoming at Spurs? 

After fighting Ruiz Jr in New York and in Saudi Arabia it’s likely Joshua will return home to London for his title defence. 

“London’s calling, I think,” said Joshua. “British supporters do play a big part in my career. Any time I’m on home soil, I can’t lose.”

He has previously fought at Wembley and The O2, but promoter Hearn says the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium could be a potential venue for the next fight. 

“The phone has gone crazy,” said Hearn. “It’s like, ‘bring him here, bring him here’. They’ve seen what we’ve done here and there’s a lot of options internationally, but he does want to box back in the UK. 

“We spoke to Spurs about hosting this fight [the rematch against Ruiz], 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.”

Anthony Joshua celebrates his victory in the rematch against Andy Ruiz Jr in Saudi Arabia

Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

AJ won’t call out Wilder or Fury

While Pulev, Usyk and Whyte are being talked about as potential next opponents, boxing fans the world over are keen to see Joshua step into the ring with WBC champion Deontay Wilder or British rival Tyson Fury next year. 

Wilder and Fury are set for a rematch on 22 February and Joshua says he will wait to see “if the opportunity presents itself”.

“Once their rematch is out of the way they can start mentioning my name,” he said. “I can’t keep on fighting all the champions, the best in the division and then other people who say they want to step up don’t step up. 

“All challengers are welcome to take on this current unified champion.”

Today’s back pages

London’s calling for Anthony Joshua

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