On the night of December 24, within the framework of a great boxing evening in Riyadh, the British heavyweight Anthony Joshua, who performed in the main fight of the tournament, crushed the strong Swede Otto Wallin, and now the question arises again : Whats Next?
AJ can certainly be considered one of the biggest names in world boxing, but his career remains quite controversial and leaves some questions. Mainly because Joshua often shows that he has certain psychological problems. The breakup occurred after the loss to Andy Ruiz, and everything got worse after two failures with Oleksandr Usyk. Before the fight with Wallin, Anthony again spoke about a possible retirement: “It’s like a checkpoint, if I don’t pass Wallin, then there is no future for me.”
Somewhat strange words for a person who seems intent on searching for the next title. This begs the question: what are Joshua’s ambitions? Is he really ready to fight for another title or will he wait for an opportunity? For example, when Fury and Usyk just go off on their own.
More on Joshua’s victory over Wallin:
Doomsday for Wallin. Old Joshua returned and took the Swede out of the ring
After his victory over Wallin, Joshua was very modest and responded vaguely: “I’m moving forward step by step, but becoming world champion would be fantastic. This sport is treacherous. Victory takes you up a step and defeat knocks you down. Every fight leads to an end goal, so if I keep winning, it will happen naturally. So we have to keep waiting and keep working hard. I seek greatness and try to improve. I can’t lose focus because I have chosen my path and it is difficult. And as long as I’m on this path, I’ll be focused. Let’s see how far I can walk with it. Wilder? If he wants, he can come back and fight. I’m sure everyone wants to see this fight.”
Of course, Joshua perfectly understands that the fight with Wilder, even taking into account Deontay’s one-sided defeat, will sell well. Now fans criticize Wilder, but in any case he is still a big name in the heavyweight division and attracts attention. Therefore, AJ is not willing to give up that monetary option now. And at the same time he is testing the waters for a possible fight with Francis Ngannou. Once again, this fight will also bring a lot of money, they are willing to pay for it. Joshua’s move to the United States fits well with this logic. He has already become a star in his homeland, but the main audience of PPV buyers is still concentrated abroad.
Is Joshua really going through a difficult period in his career right now?
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In this context, promoter Eddie Hearn’s statement is a bit dissonant: “Joshua in the current version is the best heavyweight in the world. With that mentality and team, I think he is unbeatable. I’m sure next year will be Anthony’s year. When Wilder lost, I took it as a sign from above. He wants to become a three-time world champion, so nothing stops him from playing for the IBF belt with Filip Hrgovic.”
Hrgovic, the new top heavyweight contender, is a mandatory challenger for the IBF title, but although he is undefeated, he doesn’t generate as much PPV or attract as much attention as Wilder. If the Croatian takes the belt it will be interesting, but now Joshua is unlikely to be looking forward to that fight.
There is a possibility that the Briton will wait for the outcome of the fight between Usyk and Fury. Eddie Hearn has already stated that he is interested in pairing Joshua with the Gypsy King, and even here he is being too demanding. AJ is not interested in winning titles at any price, he will wait for the right moment. If Usyk emerges victorious, Anthony won’t be as interested. Firstly, he already lost to Alexander, and secondly, Usik, even as a champion, does not generate big sales.
As for the chances of a possible rematch, has Joshua changed enough to give Alexander a run for his money? Yes, with Wallin he showed that he had learned to deal with lefties, but the Swede “cut himself off” and relied too much on defense. Usik is a different type of boxer, he moves more and is harder to work with. Is the Briton prepared to face a rival like this and, most importantly, will he be able to face him? It seems Anthony and his team aren’t too sure about that.
As a result, Joshua finds himself at a fork in the road and it’s unclear which direction he leans further. Judging by statements in the public space, he is not yet ready to break into the title race, although he could very well do so. Fights with Wilder and Ngannou seem more attractive, since the risks are lower and the fees are at least comparable. And it seems that AJ is choosing this option.