Former two-time unified heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua 27-3 (24) is ready for another shot at the heavyweight crown following his fifth-round stoppage of Swedish southpaw Otto Wallin 26-2 (14) at Kingdom Arena in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on December 23.
The bout was supposed to be a prelude to a fight against former WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder 43-3-1 (42), who lost to former WBO champion Joseph Parker 34-3 (23) on the undercard.
With that bout now in jeopardy, Joshua’s promoter is looking at other options for his fighter, who was having his first bout with trainer Ben Davison.
One option could be the winner of undisputed heavyweight championship clash between WBA, WBO and IBF kingpin Oleksandr Usyk 21-0 (14) and WBC titleholder Tyson Fury 34-0-1 (24) scheduled to take place in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on February 17.
The pair of undefeated big men have a rematch clause built into their contract. If activated, it is expected that the IBF will strip the winner of their title, leaving it vacant for the top two contenders to contest – Filip Hrgovic 17-0 (14) and Joshua.
Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn is keeping his options open.
“For me, Anthony always will make the final decision. He always takes advice, but he’s the boss and he’ll the final decision,” the Matchroom Boxing boss said.
“He wants to become a three-time world heavyweight champion, so that [Hrgovic] could be option. But there is a lot to play out with the IBF – it’s not just a case of on February 18th that belt will become vacant, because it won’t. Now if we’re all involved in a situation together… maybe it does become vacant.
“Listen, I have to be honest, I’d love him to fight Tyson Fury. If Tyson Fury can beat Oleksandr Usyk, I would love him to fight Tyson Fury. I love that fight, I hope that Tyson can be triumphant in that fight.
“We’ll go away now, obviously going into tonight we had our plans for March. Now we have to reassess, does he want to fight in March? We’ll speak to Ben [Davison], I know he’ll want to stay active I think. I think he’s in a wonderful position, I think that was a statement to say he’s the man to watch in 2024.”
Joshua is hoping to be ringside for the Usyk-Fury bout, which will crown the Ring Magazine champion.
“I’ll try and be here,” Joshua said after his win over Wallin. “I tend to not go to many fights but that’s an iconic fight so I’ll try and be here with my team. It’s gonna be a great fight but I’ll be straight out, I’m leaning towards Usyk, but who knows. They’re both at the top of their game, I wish them well, I hope they have a great training camp.
“Once that fight’s out of the way, the heavyweight division opens up again. All of us can start leading towards becoming champions. So 2024 is gonna be a big year for the heavyweight division. I’m leaning towards Usyk, I’ll be out there potentially and I can’t wait to see them fight.”