Anthony Joshua's biggest question how to top Klitschko win
- Anthony Joshua has received offers from all over the world for his next fight
- The Brit called out Tyson Fury in the ring after beating Wladimir Klitschko
- Former heavyweight champion Fury took to Twitter to accept Joshua’s challenge
- A fight against Deontay Wilder would see a three or four-belt unification bout
- Bulgaria’s Kubrat Pulev is another potential opponent to face Joshua next
The bigger question for Anthony Joshua is not who next but how do you go one better than that stupendous Saturday night at Wembley, which has beamed him by satellite to stardom in every corner of the planet?
Should he take his explosive brand of boxing, which has recharged the public enthusiasm for this hard old game, around a world which is clamouring to see him live, in person, punching every other heavyweight into the blue yonder?
The offers have been pouring in since his epic conquest of the legendary Wladimir Klitschko, from China, the Middle East, Africa and America of course. Add Germany to the ever-growing list should Klitschko decide to trigger that rematch clause.
Anthony Joshua is plotting his next big move following his heroic triumph at Wembley
Joshua beat 41-year-old opponent Wladimir Klitschko in front of a record crowd of 90,000
After such a stunning victory, Joshua has truly announced himself as a global star
Joshua knows why. He says: ‘Me and Wladimir delivered on all the hype. It would have been easier for me if he had stayed down in the fifth. But the way the fight unfolded, with both of us getting off the floor like true champions before the big finish in the 11th, ticked every box. Especially the one for entertainment. If I could have designed the perfect fight to boost my reputation, this was it.’
Again, how do you improve on that? The answer may have to include him veering away from the unfailing respect for 41-year-old Klitschko which so enhanced his good-guy image.
He says: ‘We can do something even bigger. We could get another 90,000 crowd at Wembley for me to fight Tyson Fury but it might mean me having to do some trash talking. We know what he’s like.
‘The Klitschko rematch would be huge again and that would be fine by me.’ Fury cannot come into serious negotiation until he clears the hurdle next Monday of a hearing into drug allegations. He also needs at least one meaningful warm-up fight.
Klitschko said he ‘felt pretty good’ despite being knocked out by Joshua in the 11th round
Klitschko could decide to trigger the release clause in his agreement with Joshua
And Klitschko may well spurn concerned advice from his Hollywood actress fiancee Hayden Panettiere and his big brother Vitaly and go again in the autumn. As he left Wembley he said: ‘Actually, I feel pretty good after that. I really enjoyed the fight.’
And while Joshua could fight anywhere he likes, his preference is to stay close to the London home which he still shares with his mother and where he spends time with his infant son.
He says: ‘I know I’m the champion of a world which wants to see me and we could go out there like a travelling circus. But ideally not yet. After Saturday we’ve got the UK handcuffed. I want to make the most of that first. I feel comfortable fighting at home. When I looked out from the ring there were a lot of faces I knew in that Wembley audience. Wow, it seemed like 20,000. I’m a people person and I spend a lot of time meeting, greeting, talking and shaking hands with my fans.
‘Britain is now the centre of world boxing. That’s a lot to do with the fans and I want to give our people what they want as often as I can.’
WBC heavyweight title-holder Deontay Wilder is a potential next opponent for Joshua
Still, he knows there will be exceptions. As does his promoter. Sooner or later — later if Eddie Hearn succeeds in sweet-talking the IBF — Joshua will have to meet his mandatory challenger for that belt.
That fight with Bulgaria’s Kubrat Pulev would not fill Wembley or break pay-TV records. Hearn says: ‘It could be one for China or the Middle East.’
Deontay Wilder, the WBC heavy-weight champion, flew over to watch Joshua at work from ringside. A three or four-belt unification superfight would happen in America, where US pay-per-view megabucks would boost Joshua’s purse to more than treble the £15m he earned against Klitschko.
But Joshua is playing the long game. ‘Whenever Klitschko decides to move on, the next young heavyweights will be on the rise,’ he says. ‘I will be ready to fight them all because I don’t expect to be dragged through any more fights as tough as this one. Wladimir was the last of the great experienced heavies. It was a risk fighting him so early in my career but I got through it.’
Tyson Fury was called out in the ring by Joshua after the Brit won against Klitschko
Bulgaria’s Kubrat Pulev has also been linked as a potential future opponent for Joshua
The Olympic heavyweight champion salutes the crowd after claiming his most high-profile win
Who should Anthony Joshua fight next?
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That is no ego talking. When asked if he now stands comparison with the greats — Muhammad Ali, George Foreman, Joe Frazier, Larry Holmes, Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield and Klitschko — he says: ‘No, don’t go there.
‘Maybe this fight will help define me one day but you can’t put yourself alongside icons like that unless you maintain yourself as a champion for a long time.
‘My ambition is to hold these belts for 10 years. And if I do that I probably still won’t get that level of recognition in this internet age. There are too many opinions out there now on social media.’
One accolade that will surely be forthcoming this December is that of BBC Sports Personality of the Year, for which he is heavy odds-on favourite.
Yet even on that he defers to longevity at the top, saying: ‘Andy Murray deserved it last year not just for winning Wimbledon but for all his years competing at the highest level.’
Joshua was chuffed to receive a good-luck phone call from Elton John before making his showbiz-style entrance into Wembley: ‘I thought what am I doing talking to famous people? But he’s a Watford man like me and it was good of him to call from America.’
Both John and Joshua grew up wanting to discover if the streets of London really were paved with gold. Now Anthony is following Elton along the yellow brick road.
Elton John contacted Joshua with a good luck phone call before the boxer beat Klitschko