Anthony Joshua next fight: Who will AJ face after Francis Ngannou knockout?

‘AJ’ may have to be patient after his win over Ngannou, with Tyson Fury’s immediate future already confirmed

Alex Pattle,Jack Rathborn
Saturday 09 March 2024 08:53 GMT
Anthony Joshua looking to build on knockout win over Francis Ngannou

Anthony Joshua dispatched Francis Ngannou with a devastating knockout in Saudi Arabia to boost his pursuit of becoming a three-time heavyweight world champion.

Joshua dispatched the Cameroonian quickly and looked superior to Tyson Fury in the process, with the WBC heavyweight champion taken to points by the former UFC heavyweight champion last October.

Joshua’s brutal power punching provides fresh momentum to his career with coach Ben Davison helping him to rediscover his ruthless streak.

But with Fury next fighting Oleksandr Usyk, who defeated Joshua twice previously, in a bout to crown an undisputed heavyweight champion in May, Joshua’s future is uncertain.

Here, Independent Sport analyses Joshua’s options moving forward and what comes next after such a scintillating performance in Riyadh:

Tyson Fury

The fight that fans, especially in Britain, have longed to see for years. Fury suggested after AJ’s win that there is still “a long way to go”, with the “Gypsy King” first set to box Usyk for undisputed status in May. Then there is the prospect of Fury vs Usyk 2, which is believed to be contractually agreed. With the Saudis’ involvement in boxing, however, Joshua vs Fury looks as likely as it has in years, and AJ’s chances of winning are perhaps better than ever – given each man’s current form.

Fury was ringside in Riyadh on Friday (Getty Images)

Filip Hrgovic

Hrgovic has been mentioned as a potential opponent for Joshua for months. The Croat is the IBF mandatory challenger, and that status could affect the likelihood of Fury vs Usyk 2 being for all the major belts. In fact, the winner of Fury vs Usyk in May might choose to face Hrgovic next, but if they do not, he could go up against AJ. Hrgovic has never quite lived up to his potential but is unbeaten.

Filip Hrgovic is the mandatory challenger for Usyk’s IBF belt (PA)

Joseph Parker

Joshua outpointed Parker in 2018, handing him his first pro loss, and the New Zealander would soon lose to Dillian Whyte before suffering a TKO by Joe Joyce in 2022. However, Parker has excelled since that latest defeat, outpointing Deontay Wilder in December and Zhilei Zhang on Friday’s undercard. He even climbed off the canvas twice against Zhang to win. Parker is not the fighter he was in 2018, and a rematch with Joshua would be an interesting match-up.

Joshua and Parker fighting each other in 2018 (Getty Images)

Oleksandr Usyk

Not likely, given Tyson Fury possesses a rematch clause should he lose to the Ukrainian in May, while two clear victories for Usyk against ‘AJ’ before removes some appeal for fans.

But Joshua’s improvement and better performance in the rematch keep the conversation alive. Should Fury be unavailable for a sustained period of time, perhaps due to injury, then a third fight with Joshua could appeal to Turki Alalshikh, rather than waiting until 2025 for another blockbuster heavyweight in Saudi Arabia with any of the top three heavyweights in the world.

Joshua has been beaten by Usyk twice (Getty Images)

Dillian Whyte

Cleared to fight again after a contaminated supplement was attributed as the reason for last year’s failed doping test, which scuppered Whyte’s proposed rematch with Joshua last year.

A return against the veteran Christian Hammer next week in Ireland will enable him to shake off any rust before talk of resuming their bitter rivalry, which would allow AJ to remain active in 2024.

Whyte was scheduled to take on Joshua last year (PA Wire)

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