So, Anthony Joshua reclaimed his belts and restored his reputation in the eyes of many following a convincing defeat of Andy Ruiz Jr Dec. 7.
After setting the record straight and becoming just the fourth heavyweight champion to regain his world title, AJ now has his sights set on dominating the division once again.
But who will he face next and what’s in store for 2020? We weigh up the names in the frame, with odds from the best US online gambling sites to boot.
Next fight frontrunners
Bulgarian brawler Kubrat Pulev (-250) is the clear favorite. The 38-year-old is the mandatory challenger to Joshua’s IBF belt and a fight has been ordered by the powers that be.
But discussions need to be had with the WBO before any deal is rubber-stamped. They too are entitled to call their mandatory, Oleksandr Usyk (+200) to fight the British Champ. After unifying the entire Cruiserweight division with a KO of Tony Bellew, the Ukranian is now looking to make his mark as a heavyweight.
However, in attempting to map out the best route for Joshua to become the undisputed heavyweight, it’s thought he and his team may opt to relinquish his WBO belt for the moment, paving the way for an early spring bout with Pulev, arguably, the favorable fight out of the two anyway. Punters with the same trail of thought can back AJ to successfully defend his belt with this Unibet bonus.
What about Whyte and Wilder?
The pair are clear outsiders to fight AJ next. Wilder (+1400) is prepping for his February rematch with Tyson Fury, with a potential trilogy to follow thereafter.
A rematch with fellow Brit Dillian Whyte (+1100) isn’t completely out of the equation, though even the smoothest talker of them all, Eddie Hearn, may have his work cut out getting this one past the governing bodies.
Whyte, fresh from beating Poland’s Mariusz Wach on the undercard of Joshua vs Ruiz in Saudi Arabia, has re-entered the fold (though he was never suspended) after being cleared by UK anti-doping in the wake of a failed drugs test last summer.
While still unlikely, an all British affair would catch the attention of the public, that’s for sure; Whyte beat Joshua as an amateur back in 2009 but lost to his compatriot six years later, still his only career defeat to date.
On the bill for 2020?
Will they, won’t they? The sight of Tyson Fury (+1400) and AJ locking horns is one every man and his dog pines for. Yet, if we are to be treated to this titanic tussle, it’s a long way off at present.
As mentioned, Fury has Deontay Wilder to contend with early 2020. After the first contest brought that highly memorable draw, Fury-Wilder 2 has become one of the most widely anticipated rematches in recent memory and could define the careers of both men.
But should the Brit go one better and beat the Bronze Bomber this time around, calls for an almighty ‘Battle of Britain’ between Fury and Joshua will gain momentum and be difficult for both camps to ignore.
Andy Ruiz Jr (+1600), still coming to terms with his newfound fame in more ways than one it’s fair to say, will not be fighting Joshua next. But a third bout has not been completely ruled out, though, going by the ease in which Joshua won the rematch, the third installment is unlikely to come before 2021.
Where will the AJ brand land next?
The question of where AJ fights next is always an interesting one.
Of course, normally such a call depends on the next opponent but as we’re spoken about, that is pretty much a foregone conclusion. Hence why the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium has quickly emerged as the most likely destination.
Joshua has made no secret of his desire to box back on home soil and with Wembley fully booked in 2020, the chance for a homecoming a few miles from his first amateur club in Finchley, is one AJ will not be passing up.