Saturday 12th December was an evening full of surprises – Bournemouth kicked on from their win against champions Chelsea at Stamford Bridge by taking down Manchester United at home, UFC’s Conor McGregor knocked out Jose Aldo in a record 13 seconds, and heck, even Dillian Whyte took Anthony Joshua to seven rounds in their British heavyweight title fight.
Joshua was an overwhelming 1/12 favourite ahead of the fight at O2 Arena, despite pundits confidently predicting that Whyte would be the biggest test yet for the undefeated 6ft 6 giant. With none of his fights having gone past the third round, and no opponent really landing a significant punch on the Watford-born fighter, many questioned whether Joshua could go the full distance and if his chin was strong enough to take the big blows that made it through his defence.
An ugly end to the first round – where both fighters exchanged blows after the bell went – was followed by a testing period in the second for Joshua when Whyte caught him off guard with a strong left hand. It took a couple of rounds for “AJ” to regain control of the fight, before finishing it in style with a shuddering right uppercut in the seventh.
So, with his record now at 15-0, attention turns to who Joshua should take on next. Here are three potential matchups to look out for:
1. David Haye
Having been out of the sport for over three years, “The Hayemaker” announced in November that he’d be returning to the ring in January 2016 for a fight against Australian Mark de Mori. After that, boxing fans would no doubt love to see a Haye – Joshua showdown, though it may still be too soon for Eddie Hearn to risk his prize asset against such a dangerous opponent. Despite not fighting since 2011, Haye is a proven champion with the capacity to really dismantle any fighter on his day. This is a match up which should happen eventually but, as Haye tweeted himself, there’s still a fight that needs to happen before the two can go head-to-head.
2. Dereck Chisora
If Joshua goes down the British title route, this is the fight that is most likely to happen, and it’s the one Joshua wants. AJ wants a hungry and capable fighter, but someone he still has a good chance of beating and Chisora certainly fits the bill. A potential bout back at the O2 in April 2016 is being discussed for the pair who of course appeared on the same card on Saturday (December, 2015), both ending victorious. Joshua knows that he needs to be involved in fights where he is taken all the way, survives the testing moments, before emerging victorious. When he has got that experience under his belt, only then will he be ready for a world title fight.
3. A European title fight
Despite Chisora being the obvious British choice, promoter Eddie Hearn has indicated that Joshua is keen to pursue a European title fight against Robert Helenius, who defeated Franz Rill on Saturday (December 2015). By beating Whyte, Joshua added the British title to his Commonwealth belt, and it’s believed he now wants to go down the European route, before eventually having a crack at a world title.
Whatever is next for Joshua, it’s clear that he has the potential to go all the way. BBC Sport branded him “as nasty as any heavyweight since Mike Tyson”. It’ll be interesting to see how he fares against a true test like Chisora or Haye, but there’s no doubt he’s got all the makings of a world champion.
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