Clinical Joshua ready for all-comers
LONDON: Anthony Joshua feels ready to take on any of the world’s elite heavyweights after a seventh round victory over Dominic Breazeale on Saturday.
In a first defence of his International Boxing Federation (IBF) heavyweight title, Joshua floored his American challenger twice in a comfortable victory at the O2 Arena in London.
Such has been the rapid rise of Joshua, a gold medallist at the 2012 Olympics, that he is now talking about world title unification fights.
And it is hard to see who else will be left to fight if 26-year-old Joshua continues his astonishing run of knockouts, with Breazeale being his 17th stoppage victory from as many bouts since turning professional in October 2013.
But Joshua’s next fight is likely to be against New Zealand’s Joseph Parker, who is his mandatory challenger, while a fight against fellow Briton Tyson Fury has now been cast into doubt.
Fury holds the World Boxing Association (WBC) and World Boxing Organisation (WBO) titles, while American Deontay Wilder is the World Boxing Council (WBC) champion.
Fury, 27, is due to fight former world No 1 Wladimir Klitschko later in the year after he last week pulled out a scheduled fight date of July 9 due to a sprained ankle.
Fury’s future was further in doubt after a report in the Sunday Mirror claimed he had allegedly tested positive for the banned anabolic steroid nandrolone in a sample taken last year before he fought Klitschko.
Fury has not fought since November in which time Joshua has registered three knockouts, won a version of the world title and defended it once.
“I’m in a good position,” said Joshua.
“Wilder, Fury, Haye, I’d fight any one of them, and they all want me.
“I was really looking at Tyson Fury. I hope he gets better soon, as I was hoping to get that sometime in the winter if everything went well.
“We’re going to have to reschedule that and look at other opponents like Parker if he’s vacant or anybody else that the people want.
“I need to rest. I’m tired. I’m working hard. And now I can get some rest and recharge my batteries and start afresh again.”
Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn plans to take the Briton overseas in the future and says a fight against Parker will happen in November at the earliest.
And Hearn said a fight against Fury is not looking as likely now.
“The Parker fight’s going to happen in either November, December, or March, April,” said Hearn.
“Klitschko is a fight we’d love as well, but I’m always reluctant to make a fight of that magnitude in November.
“We’ve had approaches from Africa, China, United Arab Emirates, to bring him there and have fights and that’s something I’d like him to do. Certainly in America, Dubai.
“I’ve seen Deontay Wilder calling out AJ’s name. That’s a fight we’d like to build towards, a dual Pay-Per-View on Showtime in the US, and Sky here. We probably need a couple of more fights, maybe even a fight in America in early 2017.
“Our conversations with [Tyson Fury’s trainer and uncle] Peter Fury were to look at the Fury fight for November, December, or spring, summer next year, but you never know with Tyson Fury how long someone’s going to be in the game, because he’s a little bit out there. The (ankle) injury has kind of made the decision for us.”
Joshua was taken beyond three rounds for just the second time in his career but did not think his win over Breazeale was harder than his seventh round stoppage win over fellow Briton Dillian Whyte in December.
“Definitely Whyte was tougher than Breazeale, it was a different kind of fight as well,” said Joshua.
Joshua will travel to Rio to offer help and support to the Great Britain boxing team, some of whom like super-heavyweight Joe Joyce he has been sparring with.