The heavyweight division in boxing has been shaken following Anthony Joshua’s defeat to Oleksandr Usyk.
AJ lost all three of his heavyweight belts to the Ukrainian, who was very impressive as the underdog in what was only his third fight at the weight class.
This was Joshua’s second defeat since turning professional: he was beaten by Andy Ruiz Jr in 2019 but was able to avenge that loss in his rematch with the American. However, the struggle will be substantially more difficult this time around and AJ desperately needs to bounce back from this latest disappointment, to prove his worth.
Rematch Looks Likely
Joshua has the chance to meet Usyk again for all three major belts due to the fact that a rematch clause was added into the contract and he has already said he will exercise that option.
If the British boxer does take on the former undisputed cruiserweight champion, he will need to change his game plan in order to reverse the result. After all, Usyk was in control for the vast majority of the 12 rounds. The Ukrainian has now proved that he is a big force in the heavyweight division as only the third boxer in history to win world titles at both cruiserweight and heavyweight divisions. Evander Holyfield and David Haye were the other two men before him.
A lot of pressure will be on Joshua’s shoulders in the rematch. Defeat again would really damage his reputation and it would push him further back in the pecking order in the division.
Joshua-Fury Bout Off For Now
Boxing fans were hoping to see an all-British clash between Joshua and Tyson Fury finally come to fruition in 2022, having been heavily rumoured for a number of years now. A date had actually been set for this meet, however, Joshua’s defeat may have scuppered those plans. Without the three major titles, this huge showdown would no longer crown the undisputed heavyweight champion. Promoters of both men are likely to hold off talks for now and it’s highly likely that Joshua will need to beat Usyk in his rematch for discussions to begin again.
The two heavyweights look destined to meet at some point in their careers, and belts or no belts, it would still be a huge fight. However, Fury has aspirations of unifying the division so his attention could now rightfully turn to Usyk.
Other Names He Could Fight
If Joshua prefers taking in a fight or two before facing Usyk again, there are lots of options. For example, Dillian Whyte has been keen to take him on again, though Whyte will be focusing on his upcoming bout against Otto Wallin for the time being. As it stands, Whyte is priced at odds of 2/5 in the outright boxing betting markets to come out on top. Another all-British contest would certainly attract interest as a high-profile bout.
Another option could be Joe Joyce, who’s another British boxer with a growing reputation. He is currently ranked number two with the WBO and is the Commonwealth champion, though Joshua would be the heavy favourite to win the bout.
There is also the option of going back out to America for Joshua. Deontay Wilder and Michael Hunter are both highly ranked in the heavyweight division and would be difficult opponents, particularly in their backyard.
Whatever Joshua decides to do next, this moment is an important crossroads in his career. He needs to bounce back with a big performance to return to the summit of the division.