Anthony Joshua is refusing to be pushed into swapping blows with the top names in the heavyweight division as the Londoner gears up to defend his IBF belt for the first time.
The London 2012 gold medallist is consistently linked to bouts with unified champion Tyson Fury, WBC ruler Deontay Wilder and the rejuvenated David Haye, but is prepared to hold off until he’s ready to accept the challenges that lie ahead.
“This won’t be my only defense, I want there to be lots and lots, and at the right time I will fight David Haye, Tyson Fury, Deontay Wilder and the rest,” promised Joshua.
“We’re in an era now where we have to fight each other. There’s never been an era when the best don’t fight the best at heavyweight — but they have to happen at the right time, and they will.
“We are all world champions as we hold all the belts that are available. We’re all talented. Deontay has defended his title multiple times so you have to give him credit for that.
“Tyson and I haven’t defended yet, so I put Deontay at the top. But Tyson beat Wladimir Klitschko who reigned for such a long time.
“I am happy because I became a world champion in my 16th fight and they won theirs later in their careers. But Tyson beat the main man in the division, and Deontay has defended his belt lots of times, so I am in third right now, but I am building my way up.
“Put the belts to one side, they don’t give you magical powers. A lot of fighters lose their belt in their first defense.
“It’s about developing your raw talent and making sure you keep on an upward curve because there’s hungry young challengers snapping at your heels all the time, ready to expose you – and I refuse that to happen to me,” he added.
With Haye tied up with a September fight against Shannon Briggs, Fury v Klitschko II happening later this year and Wilder committed to facing Chris Arreola, 2016 is a busy time for top division action.
‘AJ’ has a spot open for an opponent this September or October, which would rule out Haye, and of course, the winner of Fury v Klitschko following the recent delay.
Promoter Eddie Hearn may decide to arrange Joshua’s mandated clash with Joseph Parker in order to free up his boxer for more lucrative offers, although the New Zealander is already said to be looking at a date in the spring of 2017 for his shot at the title.
That would leave any crowd pleasers against Wilder, Fury or Haye off the menu until at least the summer of next year and give Joshua time to fit in another two defences after this weekend.