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Anthony Joshua’s next fight has been pencilled in for October

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Dave Fawbert
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Once the dust had settled from Anthony Joshua’s epic victory over Wladimir Klitschko at the end of April, the big question was: what next?

With the world of boxing at his feet at the relatively young age of 27, following the thrilling slugfest against the legendary Ukranian at Wembley Stadium, there was soon talk of a decade-long reign in the heavyweight division.

However, before he gets anywhere near that, he has to stage his first defence of his newly acquired WBA title, which he added to the IBF one he already held and the big question is: who will it be against?

In the immediate aftermath of the fight, both Joshua and Klitschko had been quick to show their admiration for each other, with Joshua saying of his opponent: "I'm not going to say too much in case he wants to come back and fight me again, but in terms of the boxing Hall of Fame and the boxing arena, he's a role model in and out of the ring.”

And in a subsequent press conference, he said, "I don’t mind fighting him again, if he wants the rematch. Big respect to Wladimir for challenging the young lions of the division. It’s up to him, I don’t mind. As long as Rob [McCracken, Joshua’s trainer] thinks it’s good I’m good to go."

Joshua and Klitschko greet each other after the fight at Wembley Stadium

However, he also hinted that he’d be open to a fight against Tyson Fury, who beat Klitschko in June 2016 but has not fought since, saying: "I came out and I won... [Tyson] Fury where you at, baby?”

Naturally, Fury was not short of words in response to this, telling BBC Radio 5: "Joshua is a big man with a puncher's chance and has no footwork, no speed or stamina. He is what you call a boxer's dream. I've had 18 months out and ballooned up to 26 stone. I could come back with no comeback fights and still box rings around that body builder.

He added: "I've never been more confident or serious when I say something, I will play with Joshua like a cat with a ball of wool - hands behind my back, making a right mug of him. We are in the business of sweet science. Sweet science does not consist of a body beautiful, iron pumping big fella. It's feinting, jabbing, moving, gliding around the ring, that's the sweet science."

Tyson Fury, following his own victory against Klitschko in June 2016, his last fight

Meanwhile, the mandatory challenger for him to retain his IBF belt would be 36-year-old Bulgarian fighter Kubrat Pulev, who boasts a record of 25 wins and 1 loss in an eight year professional career.

However, it looks likely that Wladmir Klitschko will take the rematch, which he is contractually entitled to, despite being. the ripe old age of 41. His manager Bernd Boente told Boxing News last week, “[Klitschko]'s not that disappointed anymore, he knows that he made some mistakes but he also knows that he could beat Anthony. He showed that. Two, three more punches in round six or even round seven and he would've been the winner.”

Now Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn has followed up, telling the Independent: “I believe Klitschko will go ahead with the rematch so we are looking at dates. The Principality Stadium [in Wales] is not really available in November because of rugby so 28 October is the option. Most of December is available but I don’t really want to go that late. Josh has a bit of a sore shoulder, Klitschko has had a tough fight, his face was bashed up. You have got two more weeks in May, all of June and after that they will be thinking ‘right let’s get back in camp’. Even if you started back in camp in August, then you have September and October so end of October can work.”

However, other venue options do remain, with Hearn saying: “For Cardiff that date is an option and also December but I don't really want to go into December so we are looking at the MGM in Las Vegas, China and Dubai as options too.”

All things considered, we’d get Anthony Joshua v Wladimir Klitschko II on 28 October at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff pencilled in your diary – and given the proximity to Halloween, expect a ‘fight night on fright night’ tagline too.

(Images: Rex)

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Dave Fawbert

ShortList.com staff writer Dave’s primary passions are pop, prose, punning and power ballads (and alliteration). A lower division football enthusiast and long-suffering cricket fan, he is one of only 110 people followed on Twitter by Chas Hodges from Chas ‘n’ Dave. Follow Dave on Twitter like Chas: @davefawbert

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