Anthony Joshua’s rivalry with Dillian Whyte could become one of the most exciting storylines in the domestic heavyweight scene for many years – but for now, both men have bigger fish to fry.
Whyte had been tipped as an outside bet to face Joshua next, following on from his stunning victory over Lucas Browne at the O2 Arena last month.
But it now looks more likely he will face Bulgarian big man Kubrat Pulev in a final eliminator to become the mandatory challenger to Joshua’s IBF strap.
Meanwhile, AJ continues his pursuit of WBC champion Deontay Wilder, with negotiations expected to continue when Matchroom boss Eddie Hearn visits New York next weekend.
Despite his desire to chase Wilder for a shot at becoming undisputed heavyweight champion, Joshua has repeatedly stated he would be open to facing Whyte again later in his career.
Whyte has a victory over Joshua from their days boxing in the amateur system, while Joshua reaped revenge on the 30-year-old during a brutal war in 2015.
Speaking about his relationship to Whyte during a charity event last week, Joshua said: “With or without Dillian, I still would have gone on and tried to achieve things.
“But you need dance partners and with Dillian and myself, we’re not shy of a challenge.
“I look back at that fight and the Klitschko fight, and I step back and analyse it now I’m more comfortable in the ring. I think ‘how did I go through those type of wars?’
“It must have been really entertaining for everyone. That’s why when I went in with Parker I thought ‘I’m just going to control this geezer on the end of my jab’ rather than turning it into a complete all-out brawl.
“I’m better than that. It’s hard because I’m a fighter and I always have been but I’m in a sport where my coach is teaching me to be a better boxer.
“Sometimes I have to give him what he needs and sometimes I have to satisfy my needs and I’ve done that a few times. That fight with Parker was about satisfying my coaches.”
He went on to admit that, at the time they fought, he “hated” Brixton rival Whyte – but admitted his feelings towards the 23-1 fighter have changed.
He continued: ”It’s weird, it’s not that I hate Dillian anymore. I respect him as a fighter, I respect the way he’s come back because boxing is a sport that is a game of snakes and ladders. One loss and you’re straight back down the pile.
“You take a loss and it will stay on your record for eternity. You could win 100 fights but you’ll always have that one on your record, he’s done well to get the respect of the people and showed he can be a top contender.”
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