Everyone knows that WBA/IBF/WBO heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua is fighting next on April 13 at Wembley Stadium, and at this point, we’ve got a pretty good idea about the opponent, too.
It’s either going to be WBC titleholder Deontay Wilder, resulting in a full unification of the heavyweight division, or a rematch with Dillian Whyte, who knocked out Dereck Chisora in another rematch this past weekend.
Wilder (40-0-1, 39 KO is coming off of a draw with Tyson Fury on Dec. 1, a fight that kicked up a lot of interest and sparked even more in a potential rematch between those two. But Joshua (22-0, 21 KO) thinks Wilder may be in a tougher spot than imagined.
“You know what I found interesting? I heard [Fury’s trainer] say he needs a break. He’s just come back. Now I think Deontay Wilder is in a sticky position, because he was trying to freeze me out. Now he’s in a sticky position.”
If Fury (27-0-1, 19 KO) and his team don’t want to head right back into a Wilder rematch sometime in the spring, it does put Wilder in the position of fighting someone else, and if that someone isn’t Joshua, there will be lots of criticism, even if the opponent is someone perfectly valid, like Luis Ortiz.
If Wilder passes, Joshua thinks Whyte has earned the shot over other potential foes:
“Dillian over [Jarrell Miller]? In my opinion, he deserves it. He’s fought the tougher, stiffer competition. You’ve got to give it to the man who has worked his way up the rankings, if it’s not Wilder or Fury. Why not Dillian?”
Whyte (25-1, 18 KO) was really always the expected “alternate” opponent if Wilder doesn’t face Joshua on April 13. It’s certainly a bigger fight in the UK than one with Jarrell Miller.
All of this should probably settle itself within a month or so. Matchroom will want time to promote that April date and they probably don’t want to stretch things out into February in order to do that, unless they believe there really is a realistic shot of facing Wilder. Then I could see it going into February until we know for sure, but if not, expect Whyte to be announced in the next four weeks or so.