Anthony Joshua’s flawless streak continued on Saturday 12th December as he knocked fellow Brit Dilian Whyte out in the 7th round at the O2 Arena in London.
The victory wasn’t as comfortable as Joshua’s first fourteen since his turn to professional boxing back in 2013. Whyte posed a more substantial threat to Joshua’s unbeaten record than any other previous opponent thus far.
But Joshua did manage to pick up yet another knockout victory with a
huge uppercut in the 7th round which left Whyte in a heap between the first and second ropes. The fight had a more personal edge with Whyte defeating Joshua in the amateur ranks and Joshua clearly seeking to avenge this defeat and prove he is the biggest prospect in British boxing, if not the world.
With Joshua building up numerous early knockouts over the past two years his raw talent has shone through. However with relatively easy victories have come questions such as can Joshua go the distance, can he compete against the more elite boxers and can he take a hit, something that hadn’t happened until his fight with Whyte.
The scorecards did have Joshua winning six of the seven rounds before the KO. Incidentally, this was Joshua’s first defeat in a round since stepping up to the professional ranks and came in the 2nd round. There was controversy after the 1st round ended as Joshua seemed to catch Whyte with a stray, late shot. Whyte did attempt to retaliate after the bell with a huge right hand but narrowly missed Joshua and possibly a disqualification.
This lit a flame inside the challenger who then came out and managed to rock Joshua with two big shots in the second round. However concerns regarding Joshua’s ‘chin’ may now calm down as he managed to stand up against multiple shots and whilst he rocked he never looked in major danger of hitting the canvas.
After soaking up the 2nd round flurry from Whyte it seemed pretty easy going for AJ afterwards. However Whyte clearly was in the fight for the victory unlike some of Joshua’s previous opponents but the Olympic Gold Medallist was just too powerful.
Whilst possibly quashing worries over his ability to take a punch Joshua has also now proven he can take a big fight and perform under pressure headlining, what was a, stacked card including the likes of Kevin Mitchell, Tony Bellew, Luke Campbell and Chris Eubank Jr. The fact the fight went seven rounds in front of a huge audience, both in the arena and on box office, will only benefit Joshua in his quest for greatness in the Heavyweight division.
Joshua is now past the stage of fighting journeymen like Jason Gavern, Raphael Zumbano Love and Michael Sprott. He’s now managed to win some gold in the form of the British Heavyweight, Commonwealth Heavyweight and WBC International Heavyweight titles which means his future fights are likely to be title defences. As well as titles we’ve seen Joshua defeat an experienced pro in Kevin Johnson as well as live up to the hype on a big British card.
But now, the biggest question remains what, or more importantly who, is next for Anthony Joshua?
The big box office fight everyone is clambering for is, of course, another all British fight between Joshua and recently crowned Heavyweight Champion Tyson Fury. However at this stage Fury is busy with his rematch against possibly the most dominant Heavyweight of all time Wladimir Klitschko . As well as Deontay Wilder wanting a piece of Fury. With only fifteen fights under his belt it would be a huge leap for Joshua to face Fury and challenge for multiple Heavyweight titles.
Another potential fight would pit the young Joshua against former Heavyweight champion David Haye who has recently come out of retirement and will fight Mark de Mori in January. While this would draw monster money and really give Joshua a platform to build off it seems difficult to see Joshua coming out on top in this fight. No matter what the critics say about Haye’s age he was still champion of the World and will still be a very strong fighter. If Joshua and Haye faced off it is likely we would see the Hayemaker cause Joshua some serious problems which would do very little for AJ’s confidence and future. However if Haye sticks around for a while this fight could be very enticing further down the line.
Promoter Eddie Hearn has rumoured a possible European Title fight next for Joshua. Fin Robert Helenius and Canadian-born German Franz Rill clash for the title on Saturday 19th December. Easing Joshua onto the European stage against the winner of this fight and giving the youngster the chance of adding another belt to his already impressive collection could be a very wise move. This fight would certainly make sense in terms of Joshua fighting his way up into World title contention having already won the British and Commonwealth titles. Logically, it’s the next step.
However the most likely option at the moment is another Brit vs Brit clash against Dereck Chisora. Chisora knocked out Croatian Jakov Gospic on the undercard of Joshua vs Whyte and would prove a worthy opponent for Joshua. Whilst Chisora’s record isn’t as formidable as the bulk of Joshua’s potential opponents he’s been in the ring with some of the best.
If Joshua was to take on Chisora he’d face a man who has faced current Heavyweight champion Tyson Fury, former champions in David Haye and Vitali Klitschko and European title contender Robert Helenius. This fight seems the most prosperous for Joshua due to the experience he will gain from fighting someone who has been in the ring with numerous top calibre boxers.
Hearn has confirmed that Joshua’s next outing will be April 9th – at the o2 Arena, again. Whether we see AJ go up against fellow Brit’s Haye or Chisora, fight for the European title, fight for a World title or even a Whyte rematch it is sure to be a huge fight for the future of British boxing.
There are plenty of options out there for the Heavyweight but Eddie Hearn will need to pick his next opponent carefully. If Joshua is thrown in at the deep end too early against a big name we could be dealing with another Audley Harrison however with the right care, attention and strategy we could…maybe, just maybe be looking at another Lennox Lewis. Fingers crossed.