Joshua v Pulev Preview: 3 potential opponents for Joshua after Pulev

Dave Kuzio:

Anthony Joshua defends his WBA (Super), IBF, WBO & IBO heavyweight titles against Kubrat Pulev on June 20 - but what is next if he beats the Bulgarian?

READ MORE: Get our free Anthony Joshua v Kubrat Pulev predictions & tips.

Anthony Joshua got his revenge on Andy Ruiz Jr when he reclaimed his heavyweight title belts in Saudi Arabia. The 30-year-old will now return to Britain to take on Bulgarian Kubrat Pulev for all the belts at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on June 20.

The fight everyone wants to see is Joshua go up against the Gypsy King Tyson Fury for all the gold, but it’s not as simple as that. Fury looks like he will be fighting Deontay Wilder for a third time, so nothing can be signed until we know who the WBC champion is.

So if Joshua versus Fury is not happening in 2020, who will Joshua line up against if he gets past ‘The Cobra’ this summer?

Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn is constantly looking for opponents for his fighters and he believes there are three main contenders to fight Joshua if the Fury fight gets delayed.

Hearn told iFL TV: “(Oleksandr) Usyk’s got to beat (Derek) Chisora. But if we don’t fight Fury or Wilder, we will fight Oleksandr Usyk or Derek Chisora.

“If you beat the number one, generally you will take the number one spot.

“Or Dillian Whyte. It’s a cast iron certainty at some point for that to happen. Dillian is waiting for his (WBC) mandatory in February 2021. If AJ fights Fury, the winner of that fight would have to sign – the WBC would say the winner has to fight Dillian Whyte.”

So according to Hearn, Joshua could be fighting Usyk or Chisora next with Whyte waiting in the wings. Let’s take a look at these three potential opponents.

Oleksandr Usyk

Oleksandr Usyk (white trunks) and Chazz Witherspoon (gray trunks) fight in Chicago. (Photo by USA TODAY Network/SIPA USA/PA Images)

At the time of writing, Usyk has only had one fight at heavyweight level. This was against American Chazz Witherspoon at the Wintrust Arena in Chicago. Originally, Usyk was set to fight Carlos Takam, but the Ukrainian pulled out with a bicep injury. He was then scheduled to take on Tyrone Spong, but Spong failed a drugs test and instead of calling the fight off, Witherspoon took his place.

Some think that Usyk will struggle against the big heavyweights in the division, his record as a cruiserweight will never be questioned. But is he capable of knocking out the likes of Joshua, Wilder, Fury or even Chisora?

Usyk was the better fighter in the ring against Witherspoon and he won the fight after the American’s corner pulled him out at the end of the seventh round. It was a good win for Usyk, but he will have to prove himself in his next fight if anyone is to believe he would be a worthy contender to face Joshua.

Dereck Chisora

Dereck Chisora (left) and David Price. (Photo by Paul Harding/PA Wire/PA Images)

If there is ever proof that you can turn your career or life around, then Chisora is that proof. Del Boy was never really taken seriously when it came to the big fights, he just seemed to be a journeyman ready to shoot his mouth off. But he opened up a lot of people’s eyes during his first fight against Dillian Whyte.

This fight was a war, both men gave it everything with Whyte getting the decision on points. Many people thought it was wrong the decision, but it got us all talking about Chisora in a positive light. He lost the rematch when he was stopped in the 11th, but he was still in the contest up until that point with two judges having him up on the score cards.

Chisora will not give in, whether or not he can beat Joshua is another question. But he will take the fight to the champion and he will not die wondering. This fight has the potential to be over in the first round, or Chisora could take him the distance.

Dillian Whyte

Dillian Whyte (right) in action against Mariusz Wach. (Photo by Nick Potts/PA Wire/PA Images)

Dillian Whyte has already admitted he doesn’t care who he fights, he just wants to fight the best. Every fight Whyte has it seems to be an eliminator for a title opportunity, but then it never comes. He is now mandatory for Fury’s belt but only after February 21.

Every obstacle that is put in Whyte’s way he walks through it. He has only been beaten once as a professional and that was against Joshua back in December 2015. Since then he has beaten Chisora twice, knocked out Lucas Browne and even beat Joseph Parker on points.

Personally, apart from Fury, I think that Whyte is the only other boxer on the planet capable of beating Joshua at the moment. He is hungry and seems to be getting better. It won’t be long until Whyte is a world champion. Could it be at the expense of AJ?