Oleksandr Usyk, Kubrat Pulev, Dillian Whyte, Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder in the mix to face 'AJ' in the coming years.
Tuesday 10 December 2019 19:30, UK
Anthony Joshua is back on the road to undisputed, but what does he make of his rivals and who could he face along the way?
Britain's heavyweight star regained the WBO, WBA 'super' and IBF titles following a masterful points victory over Andy Ruiz Jr in Saudi Arabia on Saturday night, and now attention turns to who Joshua will take on next.
Mandatory challengers Kubrat Pulev (IBF) and Oleksandr Usyk (WBO) are the front-runners for his next fight, while a battle for undisputed supremacy remains the Londoner's ultimate goal…
Joshua's assessment... He's from a great school of boxing, the sweet science of boxing, about hitting and not getting hit. I study Usyk so know his weaknesses and his strengths, that's a competition I'm looking forward to.
Anthony Joshua insists he is ready to "rock and roll" with Oleksandr Usyk.
The likelihood of fighting... In the aftermath of AJ's win, WBO president Paco Valcarcel was quick to tweet that mandatory challenger Usyk, who watched from ringside at the Diriyah Arena, must receive a title shot within 180 days.
Joshua was asked about facing the Ukrainian pound-for-pound star in the post-fight presser, simply replying: "In 180 days? Let's rock and roll mate, no problem!" The IBF are also due to order a title defence against Pulev so it's yet to be known which obligation takes precedence.
Usyk's other options... Usyk has been holding talks for a fight against Derek Chisora while, if the WBO belt becomes vacant, No 4 ranked Joseph Parker could be the man in the opposite corner.
Joshua's assessment... He comes from a great background of amateur boxing and comes from a boxing family, his brother boxes as well. He's soon to be one of my mandatory challengers.
The race to be Anthony Joshua's next opponent is being led by Kubrat Pulev, promoter Eddie Hearn has revealed.
The likelihood of fighting... Eddie Hearn revealed that Pulev is leading the race to be Joshua's next opponent, with the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in the running to host the fight.
"I think it sounds like it's the IBF, but we'll wait for confirmation of that. AJ will want to maintain the belts and if that's the case, I think it will be Pulev, and then Usyk," the promoter said.
Pulev's other options... The Bulgarian's eggs are all understandably in the IBF basket with a mandatory title shot imminent so, if it does not come next, a stay-busy fight like last month's points win over Rydell Brooker will likely keep him active.
Joshua's assessment... He's very talented, they brought him up wisely and let him gain a lot of experience which I think every fighter needs. Once you cross over to world championship level, there's no coming back.
Even though it's taken Wilder more fights than myself, when he's crossed over he's never looked back. His success and his route to success has worked out perfectly for him, congratulations to him and his team.
The likelihood of fighting... WBC champion Wilder is scheduled to rematch Tyson Fury in February of next year so a fight with Joshua, for now, seems to be on the back-burner.
Even so, Joshua remains eager to meet for all the belts, saying, "I take it step by step and, by the time I get to unification, I'll be ready, ready to become the next undisputed champion of the world. I really want to make that happen."
Wilder's other options... With Fury his immediate concern, an in-house fight against Adam Kownacki could follow while Dillian Whyte has called to be reinstated as WBC mandatory challenger, receiving a shot by February 2021.
Joshua's assessment... He takes inspiration from Muhammad Ali. He talks a good game, fights a good game, he's a talented heavyweight boxer.
The likelihood of fighting... Should Fury beat Wilder in their rematch he will hold the last jewel in the undisputed heavyweight crown that Joshua craves.
Back in October, Fury said he has 'maximum' three fights left before retiring, so an all-British showdown with Joshua may have to happen sooner rather than later.
Fury's other options... 'The Gypsy King's future plans are very similar to that of Wilder with complete attention on their February showdown.
Whyte has regularly laid out his intentions to face his fellow Brit while, if victorious over 'The Bronze Bomber', any WBC Top 15 ranked heavyweight - potentially Kownacki, Oscar Rivas or Joe Joyce - could face Fury at the back end of next year.
Joshua's assessment... Dillian's done well and he's cleared his name of any allegations and issues he's had. He's a warhorse, Brixton-mafia, strong, ready, and I'm ready to get it on again.
Dillian Whyte proclaimed "I've always been innocent" after putting the troubles of the past five months behind him.
The likelihood of fighting... They exchanged a respectful handshake in the build-up to the Saudi Arabia fight night but there will always be bad blood between Whyte and Joshua.
The two Londoners have both made massive strides since their first meeting back in 2015, won by 'AJ', and it seems inevitable that the Matchroom pair will eventually trade blows once again.
For now, Whyte is hoping to be reinstated as mandatory challenger for the WBC title, while Joshua has several championship obligations to deal with.
Whyte's other options... 'The Body Snatcher' may have to wait until February 2021 for a long-awaited WBC world title shot, so could mix it with the likes of Alexander Povetkin, Usyk, or even Ruiz Jr in the meantime.