Anthony Joshua: What Next for World Heavyweight Champion?

Anthony Joshua is the real deal. Wladimir Klitschko is far from done. Heavyweight boxing can prosper through brilliance. There was no need for insults here.

Yet there will be no pause for breath after a breathless Joshua stoppage win. The questions simply evolve.

Tyson Fury took mere moments to stir the pot, Deontay Wilder likewise. Will they get their shot at a man now hailed as "the biggest sports star in Britain" and tipped to become boxing's richest ever fighter?

In stopping the most dominant heavyweight of this century in front of a record post-war UK boxing crowd - in a fight which had everything - Joshua has everywhere to go and yet nowhere to go.
Anthony Joshua Won the Fight 

Matching an event as iconic as this - delivering a pay day to beat the £15m he was expected to earn and finding an opponent capable of competing - looks a tall order in the short-term. Yet the big names will champion their cause.

"Fury, where you at baby?" Joshua said. The Gypsy King was busy tweeting: "You had life and death with Klitschko, I played with the guy. Let's dance."

Joshua did hit the canvas hard before toppling Klitschko. Fury ducked, weaved and earned a comfortable points win by comparison in 2015.

"Tyson Fury will be watching that and thinking I haven't even got to lose six stone to beat AJ," said 5 live boxing analyst Steve Bunce.

"Could Fury have beaten AJ when he beat Klitschko? The answer is yes." Substantially overweight and devoid of a boxing licence, former world champion Fury will likely need time and a warm-up bout before meeting the IBF and WBA champion.

WBC champion Deontay Wilder warned Joshua not to get "comfortable", while Klitschko confirmed he holds a rematch option, adding that he believes the champion is "vulnerable" at times.

"I could have done more to finish him off," said the 41-year-old.

The options are plentiful on paper but timing is the crucial factor. Fury will surely happen one day but not soon, meeting Klitschko swiftly before age robs him of further edge is a challenge and Wilder's lack of appeal in the UK also presents difficulty.

Bunce added: "Wilder needs at least one more fight - he is not at the pay-per-view stature yet."

Joshua's rise, after being all-but beaten in the sixth round, to administer a devastating uppercut and finish in the 11th, wowed the world of boxing. American viewers tuned in and lapped up the destruction.

Legendary boxers Sugar Ray Leonard and Evander Holyfield were just some of those tweeting praise, while promoter Eddie Hearn believes his fighter's profile is now "stratospheric", adding: "He is unquestionably world boxing's biggest star."

Hearn is just a piece in the jigsaw of a team which has made Joshua a juggernaut in world sport. His standing as a marketable asset for more than a dozen global brands brings closer his ambition to become boxing's first billionaire, while it also heaps pressure on his broad shoulders.

"The win accelerates him to be one of the world's most sought-after major properties," said sports marketing expert Alun James, UK chief executive at Four Sports and Sponsorships.

"A YouGov survey showed 20% of the UK population have a favourable view of him. That is a very good number for boxing, which is not a mainstream sport.

"Because he's a young black man, he also allows brands to extend into demographics they haven't worked in before. He's already working with brands from Asia to the US, the UK and Dubai.

"I think he will certainly be the richest boxer ever and probably surpass Floyd Mayweather, who set the benchmark." - BBC

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