Where Next For Anthony Joshua?

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By Mark Whalley

  • Anthony Joshua obliterates IBF champ Martin with second-round KO
  • Londoner becomes Britain’s second current heavyweight king
  • His team must now decide whether to stick or twist in who to match him up against

London, UK – The major theme of Saturday night’s contest between Anthony Joshua and “Prince” Charles Martin was that of “readiness”. More specifically: was Joshua ready to challenge for a world title after only 15 fights as a professional?

Even more pertinent than the number of fights was the number of completed rounds. So destructive have Joshua’s performances been to date, he had only heard the three minute bell ring 17 times. Far fewer than even Mike Tyson, when he won the title for the first time.

Ironically, the decisive nature of his victory may have done little to answer the original question, for it seemingly confirms what many were speculating about Charles Martin: that he was a “paper” champion, without any wins over opponents of stature and a world title victory earned by Vyacheslav Glazkov injuring a knee, rather than taking any punch of significance.

Not that this will unduly bother AJ, nor his promoter Eddie Hearn, who will feel he has potentially the biggest cash cow in all of boxing at his disposal. The only evidence we have is that whoever stands in front of Joshua, gets eviscerated.

That we still don’t know how well Joshua takes a punch, nor whether he can last the pace in a gruelling contest, makes his immediate road ahead a tricky one to predict.

The conservative option would be for Joshua to continue his policy of learning with every fight – opting for “top 10” opponents rather than the cream of the division. Doing this, he can gain valuable experience, become comfortable with the pressure of being champion, and bolster his bank balance without taking the most dangerous risks.

But adopting a conservative approach would have seen him turn down this title opportunity. Simply put, he would not be champ now if that was the mentality of him and his team.

The paying public would no doubt prefer him to immediately turn his attention to the other belt holders: Deontay Wilder and, in particular, Tyson Fury. Both are already defending their titles in matches they are far from guaranteed to win, but with Wladimir Klitschko seemingly on the decline they probably represent the elite of the division right now.

Wilder – a knockout artist but with a lack of credible opponents on his CV – feels eminently beatable, but Fury is big, wily, and performs on the big stage. He probably has the craft to take AJ completely out of his comfort zone, though he might not have the chin to withstand too many of Joshua’s right hands.

Either way, you would worry about throwing a novice fighter in against them. And though Joshua is no longer a novice, nor has he really experienced anything other than fighters falling over when he hits them.

Perhaps more intriguing is a showdown with David Haye, who despite his advancing years is trying to get into the title reckoning once more. Haye carries name value and a matchup with AJ would undoubtedly sell plenty of tickets. His fragile body has betrayed him in the past, so maybe now is the time for Joshua to seek him out, because he might not be on the scene this time next year.

Whatever the route, it feels as though we are in for a genuinely exciting time watching Joshua. We might not know how he will perform at elite level, but we certainly know what happens when he lands flush on someone’s chin. Of that there can be no doubt.