It has been quite a turbulent few months for the camp of the former Heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua following on from his climatic defeat at the hands of Oleksandr Usyk in Saudi Arabia, with AJ now looking to return to contender status following his recent showing against Jermaine Franklin at the O2 Arena.
There has been much debate as to whether AJ is capable of mounting a comeback challenge for the heavyweight title crown after his recent victory over Jermaine Franklin in from of a raucous UK crowd that were eager to watch the Watford native in action for the first time since his first bout against the aforementioned Usyk back in September of 2021 at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, where he would lose the WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO Heavyweight titles after a decisive 12 round showing by the Ukrainian.
In a clear effort to restabilize AJ’s image as an athlete that is capable of mounting a charge for the heavyweight titles, Matchroom boxing pitted the 33-year-old against US fighter Jermaine Franklin who had just previously lost to fellow British heavyweight contender Dillian Whyte in November.
With AJ entering the fight with a clear height and reach advantage as well as Franklin being widely considered as a less superior competitor compared to other heavyweight fighters, Joshua was considered as the overwhelming favorite heading into their London clash according to many fans and betting sites alike.
AJ was able to gain the victory via unanimous decision, yet this result came at the conclusion of a rather underwhelming bout and overall performance from the former heavyweight champion who struggled to gain any sort of momentum in the fight that could likely have led to a knockout showing which certainly would’ve sent the O2 into bedlam.
Following on from this rather mediocre performance, there are many questions surrounding boxing fans and fellow promoters alike around whether AJ is truly capable of mounting another challenge for the heavyweight titles in the near future and which opponents he is likely to face in his next encounter.
Who is AJ likely to fight next?
There is a wide list of capable fighters that would certainly be a worthy adversary for the British star athlete to square off against in the future, which would all draw in a huge sum of Pay-Per View buys should they be announced.
One of the most widely discussed fighters for AJ to fight in the near future is the menacing US star boxer Deontay Wilder who has previously enjoyed great success in the squared circle and has played host to one of the sport’s most impressive trilogy encounters in recent years which of course was his enticing rivalry against fellow British star fighter and AJ’s major adversary Tyson Fury.
Wilder vs Joshua would certainly be a no-nonsense, hard-hitting bout with some boxing fans even proclaiming this concept to be a ‘dream fight’ in the making should it come to fruition given the many potential outcomes that such a fight could provide.
Another lively contender is a rematch against fellow British Starman Dillian Whyte who is also looking to make one last charge towards the heavyweight titles, with Joshua previously defeating the 35-year-old back in 2015.
One final opponent for AJ’s future bouts could likely be the long-awaited clash between Joshua and current British heavyweight champion Tyson Fury, which has become even more likely to happen following on from the calling off of Fury’s championship clash with Oleksandr Usyk earlier this year.
Whatever fight AJ and Matchroom boxing will aim to promote, there is still a general consensus amongst fans as to whether AJ is truly capable of defeating any of the top ranked heavyweights in the sport today, with the former world champion now raring for a chance to prove that he is still one of the top fighters on the scene today.
Is retirement on the cards for AJ?
After what was a rather sluggish and underwhelming display by AJ against Franklin, following on from his two major defeats to Usyk, there may be concerns surrounding his ability to retain a firm stance as a top ranked heavyweight contender in the sport today.
AJ has already racked up an impressive resume of accolades and winnings which has since spanned into mainstream media attention across the sporting world, which may leave many to question as to whether he has anymore major titles to claim in the twilight stage of a truly illustrious career.
There is much speculation surrounding AJ’s next potential outings in the vastly competitive professional heavyweight boxing scene, yet there may still be a lingering thought surrounding his decision to remain a fighter at the top level given all that he has previously attained as well as his recent struggles in the ring, which could affect his time as an active star prizefighter following this celebrated win over Jermaine Franklin.