Joshua’s prayers: IBF or Undisputed?

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Kunle Awosiyan


Anthony Joshua may fight for belt next year and win to become three-time heavyweight champion of the world.

No matter the outcome of the undisputed contest between his compatriot, Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk, there will be a vacant IBF belt Joshua can fight for.

The British-Nigerian former unified champion has done well for himself this year after winning three battles in a row against Jermain Franklin, Robert Helenius and Otto Wallin.

He has improved tremendously from a unanimous decision victory over Franklin, a six-round knockout against Helenius and a five-round technical knockout against Wallin inside 36 rounds.

If IBF is stripped off whosoever wins the undisputed between Fury and Usyk, a Croatian heavyweight, Filip Hrgovic, will stand in to face any contender, which of course Joshua will not mind to take.

Joshua is also in a good position to fight Fury in the event that the WBC champion defeats Usyk. This is not mandatory anyway because an undisputed champion calls the shots and will like to keep his belts for a while.

Either way, Joshua stands a good chance among other contenders to face Hrgovic.

Asked after his victory against Wallin a few days ago to choose between Fury and Hrgovic, the former champion said he would go for Fury 100 per cent.

But can Fury beat Usyk to open a clash with Joshua? The Fury/Usyk is 50/50 and I won’t advise Joshua to seek a dance with Fury now.

He should go for IBF, possibly he can beat Hrgovic to become a three-time heavyweight champion. After an IBF, he can seek the undisputed challenge.

Joshua's prayers: IBF or Undisputed?

But then, Hrgovic is not a pushover going by his records and the quality of boxers he had defeated climbing the ladder of championship.

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With 17 fights, 17 wins and 14 of it by knockout, Joshua should prepare for a war against the Croatian.

Hrgovic’s performance at the Saudi’s “Day of Reckoning” in which he claimed an embarrassing first round knockout on Mark de Mori is a signal to any potential challenger, including Joshua.

He should go for IBF, possibly he can beat Hrgovic to become a three-time heavyweight champion. After an IBF, he can seek the undisputed challenge.

Hrgovic did not just get to that level, his match against Chinese Zhilei Zhang was one of the toughest bouts in recent times. It was a pound for pound bout. He rose from a knockdown by Zhang in the early rounds to beat the Chinese southpaw.

Zhang is a good boxer any day. His victory over British Joe Joyce was spectacular. He forced Joyce to quit with a deep cut in his eye in their first match and put him to sleep in their second bout to announce himself as a boxing elite.

About 19 years ago, Joshua defeated Zhang to clinch the Olympic gold, a defeat that the Chinese is still nursing till today.

He has called out Joshua several times for a bout at the heavyweight division but the Briton believes he has passed the Chinese class as he is searching for a new belt, a new title not a renewed foe.

Hrgovic is a pound for pound boxer. A six footer with devastating hooks and jabs. He is fast, resilient and athletic but then he loses concentration sometimes.

He must learn how to hide from punches. He stands in front of his opponents, which of course may be his undoing while fighting somebody like Joshua who throws more of straight punches.

For Joshua to beat Hrgovic, he must not do pound for pound game, the Briton must hit and run. He must hit when Hrgovic loses concentration and must do it quickly before the Croatian would recover.

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