What next for Anthony Joshua? And when? The two-time world heavyweight champion has confirmed his next fight is scheduled for December, so has the door opened for Joshua to face Tyson Fury? And what might that mean for a potential undisputed showdown between Fury and Oleksandr Usyk?
We look at some of the pressing questions surrounding a fascinating year ahead for Joshua and the rest of the heavyweight division…
When is Anthony Joshua going to fight next?
Anthony Joshua beat Jermaine Franklin by unanimous decision on April 1, Joshua’s first fight since his second loss to Oleksandr Usyk last August and his first victory since 2020.
After that fight Joshua gave every indication that he wanted to box more regularly and was targeting a second bout of the year in July.
But he has now revealed on social media that instead he will sit out most of 2023 and only return to action in December.
Joshua posted: “My next fight is scheduled for December.
“Not ideal but everything is part of a bigger picture.”
Why the long wait?
It is not immediately clear why Joshua has ruled out fighting later this summer.
Though he didn’t secure a knockout against Franklin, he controlled the contest overall and didn’t appear to suffer any injuries that would sideline him for a sustained period of time.
But his reference to the “bigger picture” is a possible hint that the intention is to set up a major fight.
Increasingly, it seems, it can take a very long time indeed to make the biggest fights.
Could this then open the door for Anthony Joshua to fight Tyson Fury?
We have been down this road before. Repeatedly. When Fury and Joshua were both champions they started up talks for a fight that did not materialise. At the end of last year, after Joshua’s loss to Usyk, their teams restarted negotiations that again came to nothing.
But Joshua did insist after beating Franklin that WBC champion Fury was his target, the “pot of gold” as he put it.
It’s a sign that Joshua wants the fight and by taking plenty of time before boxing again AJ is giving both teams months to work through their differences.
Plus, they’re more likely to secure a vast site fee from a location in the Middle East for a fight in December.
What does this mean for the undisputed heavyweight championship fight?
The wait for that is likely to be even longer now.
Tyson Fury was in talks with Oleksandr Usyk to stage a fight that would unify all four of the major titles and establish the heavyweight division’s first undisputed champion in two decades.
But those negotiations publicly imploded last month.
Usyk is already going in a different direction, the WBA instructing him to make a mandatory defence of its belt against Daniel Dubois.
It leaves Fury without a fight scheduled. Having already beaten Deontay Wilder twice, the most significant fights for him to take now, apart from Usyk of course, would be defences against either Anthony Joshua or Joe Joyce.
Is the wait good for Joshua?
Being out of the ring for so long once again is a gamble for Joshua. If it does enable him to secure the Tyson Fury fight that would be important for his legacy in itself, even more so were he to win it.
But Joshua has had three different trainers in his last three fights. He would benefit more from new coach Derrick James if they had more fights and more time together.
Furthermore, inactivity has been an unwelcome feature of Joshua’s career since his momentous 2017 victory over Wladimir Klitschko.
He fought once in 2020, once in 2021 and once in 2022.
Joshua only started boxing at the age of 18, so he only had a short, albeit highly successful, amateur career. It would clearly have helped his development as a fighter to have had more rounds of competition experience.
The wait may help Joshua secure the super-fight he needs, but a tune-up bout first would surely leave him in a better position to win it.