Despite two brilliant heavyweight fights in the form of Fury/Wilder and Whyte/Chisora at the back end of 2018. Until the past few days how 2019 would shape up for the blue ribbon division was anyone’s guess. After the already famously controversial draw between WBC champ Deontay Wilder and comeback hero Tyson Fury back in early December many wondered where both men would go next. Meanwhile, in London a couple of weeks later after a stunning KO win over a much improved Dereck Chisora, Dillian Whyte threw his name firmly into the mix for a world championship shot. Commentating and getting up on the ring apron post fight to have a little chit chat with Dillian, was the IBF, WBA and WBO champ Anthony Joshua. Though still easily Britain’s and probably the world’s biggest boxing star, Joshua’s comments that night of ‘if we can’t get Wilder or Fury, we will come to you’ were not received well from a crowd that was clearly hungry for a rematch between the two men, with this time there being much more than pride at stake.
As has become evident in recent months, after well over a year of ever tiring back and forth, Anthony Joshua’s first choice of fight, in the form of a unification fight with Wilder for the all glory is currently dead in the water. Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn has become increasingly frustrated with emails not being replied to or even the most basic communication coming back his way from Wilder’s team in regard to a potential fight. This meant that a super fight between Joshua and Fury was the next choice of preference but clearly this was (and is) a fight that needed to be built far beyond than the April 20th Wembley that Joshua had booked. And you doubt that after such a gruelling comeback story (and a point to prove versus Wilder) that Fury would want to jump straight into the ring with Joshua in his next fight. This left the above mentioned option three for Joshua and his promotional team in the form of Matchroom stablemate Dillian Whyte.
Yet, as Whyte exclaimed load and clear all over TalkSport, terms for that fight could not be negotiated as after headlining two pay-per-views shows himself recently, Whyte felt his value was not being taken into account nearly enough in regard to the offers being made. And when in attendance of Ted Cheeseman’s brutal loss last Saturday night, Whyte claimed that the fight with Joshua was ‘dead’.
So what next for ‘AJ’?
Before Whyte’s announcement there had already been a truly strange turn of events in regard to Joshua’s next opponent involving a starstruck member of the public who happened to be a delivery man for something Joshua had ordered to his house. When on the phone to the world heavyweight champ the delivery driver decided to record the conversation (and then stick it on YouTube) without telling him and then proceeded to ask Joshua questions about his next fight. In his usual friendly public demeanour an unknowing Joshua inexplicably laid out the plans for his next fight and even told the guy that the fight was likely to be June not April. One of the more weird ways to let the cat of the bag.
In wholly unethical fashion Joe Bloggs had told the world what many within the boxing world already suspected. That Joshua would not fight on the April 20th date long penciled in for Wembley. Instead, he would make his US debut in June versus another Matchroom fighter in the form of New Yorker Jarrell Miller. The fight is rumoured to be confirmed in the next week or so. Though reaction from British boxing fans has been mixed to say the least, in reality British boxing stars have to try to break the US market if order to become a truly ‘world’ champion and you imagine Joshua’s charm and charisma as well as his formidable fighting abilities will go down well in New York and beyond.
Though clearly the main reason why Joshua is heading to the US is more about money than ‘breaking America’. He is now signed to the huge US and subscription based sports platform DAZN, that Mathroom Boxing have now partnered with and so was always going to be heading across the pond sooner rather than later. As arguably already a global star, those at DAZN clearly urged Joshua’s promotional team to get him stateside as soon as possible in order to spread his contagious appeal to the US market and boost DAZN subscriptions. So as ever in boxing, it’s evidently not as simple as ‘Come on AJ! Fight Dillian again next!’
If Joshua comes through the specimen of a man that is Miller, as many will expect him to do, then no doubt he will look to chase Wilder’s WBC belt once more. Though by then many would assert that it won’t even belong to The Bronze Bomber anymore as it strongly rumoured that Wilder and Tyson Fury will go at it again in order to settle any controversy from that thrilling first fight. As the purse bid for the fight was delayed this past week, it looks like the teams of both men, in particular Frank Warren and Shelley Finkel, are already ironing out a deal for a second fight at the time of writing.
After having any remaining ring rust beaten out of him in LA in December, many will back Fury to outbox Wilder like he did for much of the first bout and ensure that all the world heavyweight belts are held by those from British shores. Meaning that a Joshua/Wilder might never happen after all! In fact, even if Fury wins there will be almost certainly be a rematch clause in Wilder’s contract so it’s likely Fury and Wilder will be seeing plenty of each other in the next year or so. Leaving Joshua no closer to unifying the division.
So AJ is very likely off to America in early summer and WilderFury2 looks set to happen this year. But what of Dillian Whyte? The man who many believe deserves a shot at at least one belt. Well luckily, for Sky Sports and Matchroom’s Eddie Hearn it looks like the ever game Whyte will fill the April 20th pay-per-view void left by Joshua’s potential fairytale in New York. Rumoured opponents being banded about for Whyte include Alexandar Povetkin and Dominic Breazeale. To many, the smart move for Whyte would be the slightly easier fight in Breazeale as if he is victorious he would technically become mandatory for Wilder’s WBC belt as well currently being mandatory for one of the three belts Anthony Joshua holds by the time September rolls around.
In plain English, a fight with the American Breazele would push Whyte ever closer to the title shot he so craves. And plus after seeing the trouble Povetkin have Joshua back in September, facing the extremely tough and dangerous Russian would perhaps be too great a risk at this stage of Whyte’s career.
But despite this near 1200 word breakdown of the probable next fights for the top heavyweights in the world, it’s feels like anything can happen in boxing these days. So watch this space! Or at least read it I spose.
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