Anthony Joshua has a quintet of opponents lined up for a crack at his titles after a six-month detour facing a hand-picked challenger in Andy Ruiz Jr.
Shockingly, Ruiz blasted out AJ in seven rounds. This lead to a call to ex-foe Wladimir Klitschko in order to help him regain his titles with a typical ‘Dr. Steelhammer’ jab and grab performance in Saudi Arabia.
Now, fans are hoping Joshua will finally step up to the plate and face Deontay Wilder or Tyson Fury in 2020. Sadly and predictably, this will not happen.
Joshua is already talking about facing the likes of Kubrat Pulev, Oleksandr Usyk or Dillian Whyte, two of whom are definitely written in the Briton’s future.
Pulev is mandated next by the IBF, meaning any attempts by Joshua to face Whyte would see him lose the red strap immediately.
Following Pulev, Joshua must face Oleksandr Usyk, again Whyte being chosen would see another title go in the WBO.
On the back of Pulev and Usyk, Whyte could be squeezed in by the end of 2020 before the WBA would then expect their number one to be given his chance.
At this moment in time, that would be Manuel Charr or Trevor Bryan. But that would be expected to change in the next eighteen months.
Add into the mix the fact Joshua said he will ‘without a doubt’ give Andy Ruiz Jr. a trilogy fight and that’s FIVE opponents in the pipeline.
“Without a doubt. If you heard, we are going to do a third. He beat me fair and square the first time and I beat him fair and square the second time. So we will do it again. 100%,” Joshua said after his rematch win in Diriyah.
“I heard some people say that we should retire if we lose. Hey Andy, are you ready to retire? (Andy: ‘No way, let’s go again.’) Exactly, we are warriors.
“I know that my fans like to see me knock people out and I can do that but sometimes with certain fighters you have to box smarter.”
Words stated by Joshua mean Wilder or Fury wouldn’t be on the cards until at the very least the second half of 2021.
Any deviation from the plan for a Fury UK blockbuster could see belts go. Wilder, on the other hand, would be looked a favorably by sanctioning bodies due to undisputed status.
Addressing the situation with Wilder or Fury, Joshua is now refusing to call out the pair despite being behind both in the divisional and pound for pound ratings.
“What can I say? I have been speaking about these guys a long time. You see this time, when I had the opportunity to just focus solely on Andy, my head is in the right place,” pointed out Joshua.
“When Wilder, Fury, Ortiz and Usyk are really ready, they will make the call. Until then, I respect them. I won’t continue to call them out. I am making my own lane and if they want to be a part of that, they will call.
“Ruiz did it and created a legacy. If those guys want to do it, they can create a legacy too. Look at all I have done, come on. When I call them out and do all of that, I lose focus,” he admitted.
AJ POTENTIAL NEXT FIVE
Spring 2020 – Kubrat Pulev
Summer/Autumn 2020 – Dillian Whyte
First half 2021 – Oleksandr Usyk
Second half 2021 – WBA (Charr/Bryan)
Float – Andy Ruiz Jr. III
Phil Jay is Editor of World Boxing News and an Auxiliary member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Follow on Twitter @PhilDJay