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Joshua vs Parker: Who will Anthony Joshua fight next?
Last Updated: 05/04/18 1:59pm
The road towards the undisputed championship begins now for Anthony Joshua, so we have considered five possible opponents to fight next.
Joshua added Joseph Parker's WBO heavyweight title to his IBF and WBA belts in Cardiff on Saturday, and only Deontay Wilder (WBC) remains as another champion.
But the road towards Wilder may not be easy…
Joshua's oldest rival became a serious threat last week by brutally beating Lucas Browne, and was a grinning presence at ringside on Saturday in Cardiff.
Joshua knocked out Whyte in December 2015 to stamp his authority on a bitter feud that originated during their amateur days, when Whyte won their first meeting. It seems an eternity ago now, but Joshua and Whyte's professional slugfest had the British title on the line.
Each man is an entirely different prospect these days. Joshua is far more refined but Whyte has transformed his physique, intensified his training and matured his performances. A rematch has suddenly jumped to the front of the queue as a serious option.
Negotiations could be completed within five minutes so Whyte becomes a serious option for Joshua's next fight. Whyte has chased a shot at Wilder to no avail and his goal of challenging for a world title would be satisfied with a shot at Joshua's even bigger pot of gold, in a dust-up that is likely to cause minimal headaches in the negotiation phase.
The fearsome Russian contender is the mandatory challenger to Joshua's WBA belt (which he won against Wladimir Klitschko). Joshua has never met a WBA mandatory so that obligation looms.
Povetkin's presence on Joshua's undercard on Saturday was ominous - he survived a wobble to brutally dispatch David Price.
The Russian's promoters told Sky Sports last week about their dream to host a mega-fight in Moscow. Vadim Kornilov, of World of Boxing, said: "It would, depending on timing, fill up the [81,000-seater] Luzhniki Stadium."
Eddie Hearn added: "Joshua will have to fight Povetkin at some in 2018." A meeting, however, is far likelier to take place on Joshua's terms in the UK.
Povetkin, aged 38, has lost once in 35 fights - five years ago he unsuccessfully challenged for Klitschko's belts.
Joshua's post-fight assertions that he has no plans to box in the United States may have scuppered Miller's hopes.
Joshua has long implied his interest in crossing the Atlantic, and Hearn's Matchroom stable have an increasing presence in the States. A Joshua debut abroad seemed inevitable until his words on Saturday night.
"All these years the UK fighters had to go to America, everyone had to spend a heap of money to go to Vegas. We can do it in London, Wembley, Cardiff - it's local. We're staying right here."
Miller, a brash and talkative New Yorker, seemed an ideal foe to welcome Joshua to America (he is the No 3 contender with the IBF and WBA). He is unbeaten in 21 but the likelihood of Joshua vs Miller decreases if the world champion is adamant at staying in the UK.
There is unfinished business, here. Pulev withdrew from a scheduled meeting with Joshua at 12 days' notice last year, opening the door for late-replacement Carlos Takam. But Pulev remains an experienced and credible rival.
The Bulgarian, aged 36, had an impressive amateur career and, as a pro, has lost just once in 26 fights (a failed attempt to dethrone Klitschko in 2014). Pulev has wins over Britain's Matt Skelton, Michael Sprott and Dereck Chisora.
The bad news for Pulev is that his position as Joshua's IBF mandatory was handed over to Takam. Pulev remains ranked No 4 with that governing body but Joshua is free of IBF mandatories for the foreseeable future.
He is the ultimate target (unless you count Tyson Fury who is approaching three years' absent) and stranger things have happened than Wilder and Joshua's representatives finding an agreement to fight before the end of 2018.
The two remaining world heavyweight champions have said all the right things - "I'll spark him out," growled Joshua post-fight to which Wilder replied: "I accept 100 per cent."
The negotiating table will stage the first chapter of the fight between Joshua and Wilder.
"They don't want it, they've never approached us," Joshua's promoter Eddie Hearn claimed. "They don't want to know."
Talks began in earnest at the end of 2017, before the Parker fight was agreed, and Hearn always claimed Wilder's US-based representatives drive a particularly hard bargain.
The unbeaten American, Wilder, has fought his past two fights in New York's Barclays Center but has visited the UK before to oust Audley Harrison. Wembley Stadium and Las Vegas have been mooted for Joshua vs Wilder but there is much work to do before this fantasy becomes reality.