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WHAT’S NEXT FOR ANTHONY JOSHUA?

With the dust having settled over a week on from the thrilling heavyweight showdown between Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko it is now time to look ahead and speculate who might be next for the WBA and IBF champion.

Aged 27 Anthony Joshua has become perhaps the biggest attraction in the sport of boxing today having defeated Wladimir Klitschko in an astonishing encounter that will live long in the memory of all observers.

The contest was a highly competitive one between two men who left the stadium with their reputations enhanced. Both men inspired every single one of the 90,000 fans at Wembley and the millions watching on television around the world.

Initially, it seemed as though Joshua was going to get the job done without too much trouble when he knocked Klitschko down in the fifth, Joshua is a known to be a fantastic finisher but couldn’t end the show at that point and left himself in trouble having exerted huge energy in looking for the stoppage.

The veteran Ukranian fought back and floored the young Brit for the first time in his professional career. Joshua was badly hurt and did remarkably to recover and see out the sixth round.

The next few rounds were incredibly tense with Klitschko looking in control when suddenly at the start of the eleventh round Joshua came out with bad intentions. He knocked Klitschko down twice before pinning him in a corner and landing shots forcing the referee to step in and end the contest.

This was the sort of entertaining heavyweight contest that has been all too far and few between in the past decade and it has left fans hungry for more. With this in mind, an assessment of who could be next for Anthony Joshua is required.

Wladimir Klitschko- Age 41, record- 64-5

It has been announced that a rematch clause exists in the contract for the first fight allowing Klitschko the chance to try and exact revenge.

There is no doubting the excitement that would revolve around a rematch given the scenes of the first fight. Fight fans would love to see the two men square off again and huge money would be on offer.

Before such talk can go any further Klitschko needs to take the time to sit down and work out exactly what he wants to do. At 41 years of age, he has had a long successful career but he has now suffered consecutive losses. Although he looked great against Joshua it may well be time to call it a day and go out with his all his faculties intact.

If he does decide to take on Joshua again then a huge night of boxing can be expected with tickets in huge demand.

Joseph Parker: Age 25, record 23-0

Perhaps the best reward to risk ratio for Joshua is to try and unify the titles with WBO champion Joseph Parker.

Parker is a young, inexperienced champion who has raw potential but a lot to learn. He has quick hands and decent power but he seems too open defensively to be considered a favourite against the likes of Joshua.

Many regard Parker as the weakest of the champions and following his lacklustre performance this past weekend heavyweight contenders will be lining up to face him.

Parker has expressed his desire to face Joshua before but perhaps his handlers will realise that now isn’t the right time to battle Joshua and that he needs more experience and time to hone his skills.

It seems more likely that Parker will face Deontay Wilder, Tony Bellew or Dillian Whyte.

Deontay Wilder: Age 31, record 38-0

Anthony Joshua versus Deontay Wilder is a fight that will combine the interests of both the British and American fight fans to create a huge unification event.

Wilder is the WBC world champion with a 38-0 professional record with 37 wins by way of knockout. For all of Wilder’s ferocious power, there are huge question marks surrounding his technical ability.

He has a very limited punch repertoire and at times his punches are so wild that it is quite frankly embarrassing. Despite such weaknesses being obvious he always seems to find a way to get the job done.

Joshua would be extremely confident of picking Wilder apart and knocking him out but the threat of Wilder’s power will always make it a risky fight. The American fight fans would back their man and the hype surrounding such a fight would be incredible.

This fight does, however, seem unlikely at the moment as fights with Joseph Parker or Tony Bellew are being mentioned as more realistic at this point.

Tyson Fury: Age 28,  record 25-0

Anthony Joshua versus Tyson Fury is the biggest fight that can possibly be made in British boxing. This is the fight that the fans are desperate to see. For many, this is the fight that will truly decide who the best heavyweight in the world is.

With both men having defeated Klitschko and Fury not losing his titles in the ring there is widespread debate as to who the better boxer is. You have the awkward, technical style of Fury against the power and explosiveness of Joshua.

This fight will not be happening anytime soon though given Fury’s absence from the ring. He is not even close to fighting shape and will need a couple of tunes up fights ideally before facing the likes of Joshua.

In all likelihood, if the two remain undefeated the fight will take place this time next year at Wembley Stadium in a fight that will be billed as the biggest in British boxing history.

Kubrat Pulev: Age 36, record 25-1

Perhaps the least glamorous option on this list is IBF mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev. Aged 36 from Bulgaria but fighting out of Germany, Pulev holds a 25-1 professional record that has seen him claim victories over the likes of Alexander Ustinov, Tony Thompson and Dereck Chisora.

He is a technically good fighter with a solid jab but he isn’t the most electrifying fighter in the division. Prior to Joshua facing Klitschko, Pulev would have been the best fighter to have faced Joshua but it feels as though Joshua has gone to another level now.

Having been knocked down several times and badly knocked out by Wladimir Klitschko in 2014  there will naturally be question marks over the competitiveness of a possible fight.

Pulev is a good fighter but he is not the household name that would have fans licking their lips with anticipation.

This is the problem for Joshua now though as he is only going to be interested in being involved in the biggest possible fights but if he wants to hold onto his titles then he will have to face his mandatory challengers.

In all likelihood, there are two possibilities that seem most realistic as Joshua’s next opponent, either a rematch with Wladimir Klitschko or a mandatory defence against Kubrat Pulev. Either way, I think it’s safe to say that exciting times are ahead for the heavyweight division with Anthony Joshua leading the way.

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