World champion Joshua challenges all comers

World heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua landing a punch on Alexander Povetkin's face in their fight at Wembley Stadium in London on Saturday. Joshua prevailed with a technical knockout win.
World heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua landing a punch on Alexander Povetkin's face in their fight at Wembley Stadium in London on Saturday. Joshua prevailed with a technical knockout win.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • World heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua issued an open challenge to any contender, including fellow title-holder Deontay Wilder, after a technical knockout win over Alexander Povetkin at Wembley on Saturday.

The Briton, who holds the World Boxing Association, International Boxing Federation, World Boxing Organisation and International Boxing Organisation belts, had been in talks about a fight with World Boxing Council title-holder Wilder, which would give him a shot at becoming the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world.

Negotiations broke down, however, with the American instead announcing a bout with former heavyweight title-holder Tyson Fury in the United States on Dec 1.

With Joshua locked in to stage another fight at Wembley next April, Wilder's upcoming fight casts doubt on whether he could be the next opponent for the undefeated 28-year-old, who improved his record to 22 wins, with 21 coming by way of knockouts.

But Joshua is still eyeing an eventual showdown with Wilder, 32, after his devastating seventh-round stoppage of the fierce-hitting 39-year-old Russian, who was knocked out for the first time in his career and suffered only his second loss in 36 fights.

"Yes (I want to face Wilder), we've been negotiating with their team since the (Carlos) Takam fight. But, if Wilder's not serious, there's other people out there," he said in his post-victory speech.

The 2012 Olympic gold medallist then played to the 80,000-strong crowd, asking the fans: "Who do we want to fight?"

ANYONE WILL DO

Yes (I want to face Wilder), we've been negotiating with their team since the (Carlos) Takam fight. But, if Wilder's not serious, there's other people out there."

ANTHONY JOSHUA, world heavyweight champion, on his next opponent.

As Wilder's name echoed around the stadium, Joshua added: "Anyone is welcome. The sport is about what the fans want. I'll fight all of them. Tonight is out of the way, let's figure out what's happening on April 13.

"Providing there's no (mandatory) challenger, we're going to put out a Twitter vote."

His promoter Eddie Hearn concurred, saying that "a fight with Deontay Wilder would be the biggest fight in world boxing" and they "want that fight now".

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 24, 2018, with the headline 'World champion Joshua challenges all comers'. Print Edition | Subscribe