June 1st will go down in history, not for Anthony Joshua losing his belts and his unbeaten record (although the shock loss will remain just that), but for Andy Ruiz Jr. becoming the first person of Mexican descent to win the Heavyweight World Title. The man he beat was Matchroom’s chosen one, the angel on the top of their tree. Anthony Joshua was the outfit’s guaranteed money maker. Eddie Hearn and all those involved will want to get AJ back to the top as soon as possible and they no doubt have the option of an immediate rematch, but we’re going to look at the ways AJ can get back to the top if that doesn’t happen.
These options might not be one fight to the top (some will be), but these are ways I feel he could climb back to the pinnacle of the division.
The WBA Regular World Champion would be an opportunity for Joshua to get a “world” title back around his waist straight away. Charr hasn’t fought since he won’t the vacant Regular bauble – having a fight cancelled after a failed drug test and will no doubt lap up the chance to earn a career high payday.
Eventual winner of Wilder-Ortiz-Fury (or Schwarz)
This is the obvious one for many, the WBC president has said they’re fans of Joshua and had high hopes for him to fight for their title before he went down the IBF route. The issue with this is it could be over a year before the fight happens and Joshua and Hearn would have to eat humble pie and accept they’re the “b side” of the contract talks. It would be the fans’ choice without a doubt but is probably the least likely to happen.
The rematch we’d hoped happened after the Wilder fight was off the table could be the easiest one to make. Both promoted by Matchroom but no doubt Whyte will want to rightly be the A side because he’d be defending his WBC Silver and WBO International titles… unless it’s for the WBC Diamond Belt. Whyte may have eyes on bigger prizes and see his path not needing the rematch with Joshua before he gets his well earned world title shot.
It’s another one I doubt Team AJ want to take coming off a loss, but if the WBO call their mandatory in Usyk (who will be called ahead of Whyte due to their Super Champion rule – Google it) and the belt becomes vacant, it would a possible route for Joshua to regain a quarter of the belts he lost.
A fight that could get Joshua into a mandatory position for the IBF, or even be for the vacant IBF if they call Pulev as their mandatory and it becomes vacant; this would be the second easiest fight on paper on my list. There would be a sense of poetic romance if Joshua chooses to follow the IBF route back to his former titles seeing as it was his first world title and a fight with Pulev, for the vacant belt or otherwise, will get him just that.
What do you think will be the avenue Anthony Joshua and team choose? Who would you most want to see him fight next? Let us know on Twitter (@southpaw_jab) or on our Facebook page (/www.facebook.com/Southpawjab)