By: Sean Crose
“I feel like it’s ‘Lord of the Rings’,” the BBC quotes WBO, IBF, and WBA heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua as saying, “the last ring, let’s get it on, let’s make history.” That last ring, of course, is the WBC world heavyweight title, which is currently in possession of the thunderously hard hitting American, Deontay Wilder. Knowing that Wilder is due to rematch his countryman Tyson Fury in February, Joshua seems to be making it clear that he wants the winner of the much anticipated second Wilder-Fury bout. The Londoner was reportedly on the Zoe Ball Breakfast show when he claimed: “It has to happen in 2020, we’re in the same division, same era, if these guys want to make history, especially Wilder because he has the last belt.”
This, of course, is music to the ears of fight fans, who would love nothing more than to have a single heavyweight champion ruling over the division. One of the greatest complaints of those who follow the sweet science has long been the fact that there are too many belts and, subsequently, too many titlists. With that in mind, it was recently assumed that team Joshua was willing to let things stand as they are – at least for the time being. With his latest statements, however, Joshua has at least indicated otherwise.
“We created history,” the multi-titlist is quoted as saying, “by becoming a two-time champion of the world and I feel like we can add to that legacy in 2020.” Joshua came back from a crushing defeat in highly impressive fashion last weekend in Saudi Arabia, when he handily bested Mexican-American Andy Ruiz, the man who had knocked him out and taken his titles last June in New York’s Madison Square Garden. Almost immediately, talks of a unification fight with Wilder and/or Fury resumed. And now it’s clear that Joshua is willing to stoke the fire.
Before setting his sights on a unification battle immediately, however, Joshua appears to be focusing on making a mandatory defense first. Kubrat Pulev and Oleksandr Usyk are currently in line for the WBO and IBF belts respectively. Although a title defense of one of those belts is likely in 2020, it’s hard to imagine Joshua defending both and while trying to unify in the same year. Step aside arrangements, however, are commonly made in the sport of boxing. The last time a fighter became undisputed heavyweight champion was when Lennox Lewis bested Evander Holyfield in their 1999 rematch. Twenty plus years have now come and gone since that moment. The current heavyweight scene, which is dominated by Joshua, Wilder, and Fury has led to general excitement around the possibility of a true divisional king emerging once more.