Anthony Joshua wants it all.
If Tyson Fury’s latest travails bring him down, the Watford heavyweight with the spotless record, winning smile, an IBF belt and a queue of contenders as long as that gathering outside Wimbledon for tickets to the tennis might very well end up the all-conquering king of boxing.
It is a leap to make that call on the evidence so far, however impressive he was in clinically dismantling the determined but doomed challenge of Dominic Breazeale, a former college quarterback whose ambitions in the ring crumbled a minute into the seventh round of their brutal encounter in Greenwich on Saturday night.
Joshua clubbed him to the floor twice and, for all his defiance, Breazeale had resignation stretched across his bruised features as he peered up from the canvas towards his corner across the ring. He must have realised at that moment the 17-0 undefeated CV he brought to London had been exposed as tissue-thin.
Breazeale, who swung with intent and missed just as convincingly, was at least a tougher proposition than was another 30-year-old dreamer from California, Charles Martin, who surrendered his IBF title to Joshua inside two rounds in the same ring only two months earlier. That’s quite enough American horizontal heavyweights for one summer.
Joshua will now look way beyond the O2, where he has destroyed seven of his 17 opponents, all early: to Africa, the Middle East and, of course, the United States. Whether he will first get a shot at the version of the title Fury has held after the Mancunian’s injury and subsequent embarrassment over yet-to-be-proven allegations of doping, his promoter Eddie Hearn will work out in the weeks to come.
Wladimir Klitschko might be handed back his crown, but it does not sit easy. He is an ageing monarch. Joshua is the prince with fire in his eyes.
Hearn revealed of Joshua: “He won’t say but he had a virus for a couple of weeks. There were times when we were considering to take the fight or not. And after the Martin fight, because of the commercial deals, he’s just been non-stop [promoting], with broadcasters, sponsors. He’s been absolutely relentless, with hundreds of people chasing him down the road, camping outside the hotel in Canary Wharf.
“It takes a lot out of our boy. He needs a long rest now, to just go and sit on the beach with his mates and mess around.”
To that end Joshua will be going to Rio in support of the 12-man Great Britain team at the Olympics. “I’ve got a good relationship with the boys,” he said. “I’ve known them for years. It will be good to speak with them first-hand, behind closed doors. But the main thing is I want to catch up with my family, spend some nights at home.”
Then it will be back to business – and business is looking good. “We don’t know the ins and outs [of the Fury case],” Hearn said, “but our conversations with Peter Fury [Tyson’s uncle and trainer] were to look at the fight for November, December this year, or spring, summer of next year.
“But you never know with Tyson Fury, how long someone like that’s going to be in the game – not because of what we’ve seen in the papers, but because he’s a little bit out of it – and how long he’ll keep winning.
“The injury has sort of made up our mind for us. But we want to get all the belts,” Hearn said.
“I see Deontay Wilder calling out AJ’s name tonight – because everyone’s calling him out. Oscar De La Hoya just tweeted, ‘Luis Ortiz is the best heavyweight in the world. Let’s fight now.’
“There’s not a heavyweight in the world who doesn’t want to fight Anthony Joshua – because Charles Martin has obviously told them there’s a few quid on the table. We like the Joseph Parker fight. That’s a mandatory. We’ll have to deal with that at some point, whether that’s in November, December or March or April. That’s a good fight against a hungry, undefeated fighter.”
What is encouraging in the eye of this promotional storm is Joshua’s willingness to fight any and all of them. This is a dramatic shift in his thinking since before he won the title. He is now carrying himself like a genuine champion, someone who might actually go on to dominate the division for as long as he wants.
It is a heartwarming prospect.
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