Joshua’s next five potential opponents as he targets mega-fights with Wilder and Fury… but already has TWO mandatories

ANTHONY JOSHUA smashed his way back into heavyweight supremacy after he gained revenge against Andy Ruiz Jr.

The 6ft 6in Londoner made the 3,800-mile trip to Saudi Arabia on a mission to snatch back the unified belts Ruiz claimed in a historic upset last June.

Anthony Joshua smashed his way back into heavyweight supremacy after gained revenge against Andy Ruiz Jr
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And after boxing expertly in the brand new Diriyah Arena, AJ became the king of the division again in front of the Saudi Sheikh’s

Back at the top of the division Joshua will again be hunting fights with WBC king Deontay Wilder and Gyspy King Tyson Fury.

But with two mandatories already at AJ’s feet, SunSport investigates who could be next for the two-time world champion.

Oleksandr Usyk

After moving up from cruiserweight as the undisputed champion the WBO, as part of their rulings, immediately instated Usyk as the governing bodies heavyweight mandatory.

As Joshua was already contracted to rematch Ruiz the Ukrainian was forced to await the result of the Saudi rerun.

But as AJ reclaimed his belts the WBO instantly announced Joshua will be mandated to face Usyk NEXT – or face the belt being vacated.

Their president Francisco Varcarcel has given AJ 180 days to negotiate a deal with Usyk with the deadline ending on June 4th.

Usyk signed with Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn last year, meaning the super-fight can easily be made and one that will come with consequences should it not happen.

The the WBO instantly announced Joshua will be mandated to face Oleksandr Usyk next
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Kubrat Pulev

In an almost identical scenario the IBF have named Pulev as mandatory for Joshua’s belt.

The Bulgarian – who pulled out of fighting AJ in 2017 – became the governing bodies No1 challenger last year after beating Hughie Fury.

Three fights later, and having been suspended after kissing a female reporter, Pulev now has claim to again be next for Joshua.

The unified champion could be forced to pick between a super-fight with Usyk, or potentially easier defence against his 38-year-old IBF mandatory.

But unless promoter Hearn can negotiate one of the mandatories giving way, his golden boy could be forced to give up one of the belts he battled so hard for in Saudi.

The IBF have Kubrat Pulev as their mandatory challenger to face Joshua
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Deontay Wilder

Before AJ was embarrassed on his US debut in New York, he spent a year squabbling in the negotiation room with WBC champ Wilder.

But having regained his three belts, the Londoner can again look to the Bronze Bomber in a bid to have all the belts on the line in an undisputed clash.

Despite having two mandatories already lined up, the governing bodies would give Joshua a pass he was to secure a unification bout.

Wilder, though, is set to rematch AJ’s domestic rival Fury in February – a fight that could alter who Joshua chases next.

AJ is keen to settle the score and debate with the heavy-hitter from Alabama, but should Fury win, the belts could tempt him the way of the Gypsy King.

AJ may look to finally settle the score with WBC king Deontay Wilder
AP:Associated Press

Tyson Fury

Despite currently not owning a version of the world title, a win for Fury against Wilder next year could pave the way for a mammoth all-British unification fight.

The WBA, IBF and WBO belts AJ won back against Ruiz are the three titles the Gyspy King was stripped off or relinquished.

A fact Fury will not let Joshua forget, AJ could defend his straps against his English rival to finally end the debate of who the belts rightfully belong to.

The clash in personalities or styles between the nation’s biggest boxers makes for a thrilling blockbuster showdown both are desperate to finally agree.

Tyson Fury is set to rematch Wilder next year for the WBC belt
Reuters

Andy Ruiz Jr

Before Joshua avenged his defeat against Ruiz he actually promised the Mexican-American a trilogy bout.

And after surrendering the unified belts in Saudi the beaten champion straight away called for a decider.

Joshua implemented the perfect gameplan to outpoint Ruiz and would take that confidence and form into a third fight.

The Brit will likely fancy ending the rivalry with a deciding victory, but the shut-out points win may leave fans demanding a new foe for the 2012 Olympic gold medalist.

Ruiz instantly called for a trilogy bout after being defeated by Joshua
Reuters

WHO DOES AJ WANT NEXT?

Looking ahead to the future, Joshua told BBC Sport: “What can I say? I have been speaking about these guys a long time.

“You see this time, when I had the opportunity to just focus solely on Andy, my head is in the right place. When Wilder, Fury, Ortiz and Usyk are really ready, they will make the call.

“Until then, I respect them. I won’t continue to call them out.

“I am making my own lane and if they want to be a part of that, they will call.

“Ruiz did it and created a legacy. If those guys want to do it, they can create a legacy too. Look at all I have done, come on. When I call them out and do all of that, I lose focus.”

Joshua is a two-time unified heavyweight world champion
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