Anthony Joshua: “Back to Work!”
When Anthony “AJ” Joshua (23-1, 21 KO’s) staged his match with Andy “Destroyer” Ruiz Jr (33-2, 22 KO’s) the weight of the world was on his shoulders. In their previous scrap, Joshua was roughed up, dropped several times and stripped of his titles.
In the aftermath, he was called a paper champion, fraud and a coward. Throughout the industry, a regular talking point held that if AJ lost again he might as well hang up his gloves. Needless to say, the pressure was on for the UK superstar!
“And then I take a loss, of course you’re going to expect people to say these things. You have to expect it, you have to take the good with the bad. But, at the same time, I know that I belong here. So, if anyone does say something negative I know not to worry. I’m definitely going to get myself back on the pedestal… and I just proved it to myself.”
BACK ON THE HORSE
Even with all these would-be calamitous outcomes, Joshua would remain composed and complete a masterful performance. A slightly slimmer AJ maintained purposeful movement, a steady jab and a level temperament to thoroughly out-box Ruiz. It didn’t help the Destroyer’s cause at all that he came to the ring dreadfully out of shape.
Once face to face with Joshua, Ruiz fought more like a tough pizza delivery guy than a professional boxer.
With the redemptive prizefight in his rear-view mirror, and titles back in his custody, Joshua is back on top of the world. However, having seen how easily his title reign can come to an end, AJ is retaining a laser like focus on the game. The UK darling has declared in an interview with SkySports, that after the briefest of breaks, he is hopping right back into training.
“The main thing is that the belts are back with their rightful owner. They’re back at home and I’m going to keep myself dedicated because I know the pitfalls and the downfalls of what we call success.”
EYE ON THE PRIZE
Being that his mind is already zeroing in on preparation for his next outing, its only natural to speculate on who that next opponent would be. Wishful thinking would nominate WBC heavyweight champion Deontay “Bronze Bomber” Wilder (42-0-1, 41 KO’s).
The two have a lush back story that goes back the last several years and Wilder owns the last piece of heavyweight hardware preventing one undisputed champion.
Well, whether we want that next or not we’re going to have to wait. First and foremost, Wilder has to get past Tyson “Gypsy King” Fury (29-0-1, 20 KO’s) before he can entertain a mega-fight with Joshua.
Wilder and Fury have already signed a contract to stage a rematch of their controversial 2018 draw. Even without that current hurdle, Joshua has already confirmed that his immediate attention will go to satisfying his mandatory challengers.
So while AJ has not provided any clue as to who will come first, it appears that his next fight will be with IBF mandatory Kubrat “The Cobra” Pulev (28-1, 14 KO’s) or WBO mandatory Oleksandr Usyk (17-0, 13KO).
“Anyone can get it! The resume shows you that! But I feel I would be keen to handle my mandatories because the current WBC champion is fighting with Tyson Fury so good luck to both man!
“That’s another exciting fight for the division and in the meantime, I’ll handle my mandatories which I have to do. So whoever’s on that list I’ll be ready come March times.”
DAY DREAMING ABOUT UNIFICATION
For whatever its worth, Joshua assures that he is not afraid of, nor avoiding a fight with Wilder. He says he is ready for the Alabaman wrecking machine now, however, he simply wants to maintain his titles first. Yet, once free of those obligations, he will be more than receptive to staging a long anticipated showdown with the WBC champion.
Although there are a lot ‘if’s’ in between now and a potential blockbuster bout, much of the boxing world sure hopes that it happens!
“I don’t want to say that we got to be patient because it seems like I’m the one saying that. I’m ready, you know what I mean? I got my belts back! I’m ready but I’m not looking that far in the future.”
By: Bakari Simpson