Well, we now know where IBF heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua (17-0, 17 KOs) will be making his next title defense of his International Boxing Federation title on November 26. The 26-year-old Joshua will be fighting against an opponent still to be determined at the Manchester Arena in Manchester, UK.
The move of the venue from the O2 Arena in London appears to be a decision done to expand the 2012 Olympic gold medalist’s base of boxing fans, as it lets him be seen by fans from different part of England.
It’s a similar move that we’ve seen middleweight champion Gennady “GGG” Golovkin making in fighting on different coasts of the U.S in order to build up his fan bases in both sides of the United States rather than just on the East or West Coast.
This is Joshua’s second defense of his IBF title. His opponent is said to possibly be Kubrat Pulev, a fighter that was stopped two years ago in five rounds by former champion Wladimir Klitschko. It’s still unclear though if the 35-year-old Pulev will be the one that Joshua winds up facing. If he does fight him, then it’s going to be a clear upgrade from anyone that Joshua has fought thus far during his three-year pro career. Pulev has the boxing skills and talent. He just doesn’t have the power or the chin to be taking big power shots from Joshua for ay length of time before he gets knocked out.
“When I first started my professional career I travelled all round the country fighting, which I loved. This is taking me back to the grass roots,” said Joshua to skysports.com. “We want this to be a spectacular show, all the way up the card. I can’t wait to get back up north and show the people of Manchester how much I have improved since the last time I was there. I have been inspired over the summer by the fighters in the Olympics; it has given me a new perspective and huge hunger to get back in ring.”
Unless Joshua fights someone with the power to beat him like Bermane Stiverne or Luis Ortiz, I don’t see him being able to show whether he’s improved or not. Joshua can get up there afterwards and tell the boxing fans and media that he’s gotten better in the last three years, but I won’t buy it. You can’t say that Joshua is getting better based off the gawd awful opponents he’s been facing thus far. You can guess that he’s getting better. For Joshua to really show that he’s getting better, he needs to fight the very best in the heavyweight division, and I don’t see Pulev as being the very best. I think he’s maybe the sixth or seventh best, but definitely not the best.
“It has taken a bit of time to officially announce the fight. We want this to be a spectacular show, all the way up the card and it takes time to get these things right,” said Joshua.
This will be Joshua’s first fight away from the O2 Arena since his win over Raphael Zumbano Love in Birmingham in 2015. Joshua previously fought at the Manchester Arena in 2014 in defeating journeyman Konstantin Airich by a third round knockout in a terribly one-sided fight.
Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn has been talking about wanting to match him against Stiverne, Pulev or Joseph Parker. Pulev’s name has been the one that has been getting mentioned mostly nowadays. However, there are rumors that the negotiations aren’t going well, and Joshua might go in another direction toward someone else. I honestly don’t think it matters too much. Pulev isn’t going to beat Joshua, and neither is Stiverne. At least with Stiverne, he has the punching power that can change the fight in an instant if he lands one of his big left hooks to the head of Joshua. Stiverne also has a very, very sturdy chin, and he’s only been stopped once in his career in a controversial stoppage loss to Demetrice King in a 4th round TKO in July 2007. I saw that fight, and I don’t think the referee should have halted the match for a second, because it was a premature stoppage with Stiverne still fighting back.