By Hammad Basharat

Anthony Joshua had another thing coming if he thought that the status quo that existed before his loss to Andy Ruiz Jr would automatically be reinstated once he had managed to avenge that loss. Despite Joshua’s best efforts in the Saudi Arabian desert, the 30-year-old still finds himself watching on as the world’s best do battle. 

All of this was confirmed yet again after Frank Waren announced that there would be a third fight between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder regardless of the outcome of the second bout. Basically, this means that the chances of Joshua getting a fight with either Fury or Wilder in 2020 are about nil. 

Seeing as Joshua himself is set to fight Kubrat Pulev in the summer and that a third rematch between Wilder and Fury will at the earliest, only be in the winter of 2020, it does all of a sudden seem as if Joshua will remain in the cold for another year after losing his status as the heavyweight king.  

Indeed, the invincibility that the Watford-born fighter used to have is now gone thanks to the upset against Andy Ruiz Jr at Madison Square Garden. Now, whilst Eddie Hearn and his golden goose Anthony Joshua may crow loudly about how and why the 30-year-old is still the man to beat, that just simply isn’t the case. Just take a look at his next opponent. 

Instead of squaring up to either Wilder or Fury, Joshua will pit himself against 38-year-old Pulev, who has only had two knockouts in the last five years.  

The Bulgarian has fallen off the pace in recent years and it’s no surprise to see Hearn line him up for Joshua. The 30-year-old needs a gimme fight and can’t afford to lose again or else any bout with either Fury or Wilder will never go ahead. Eddie Hearn knows as much and after seeing Joshua lose once before and almost squander the chance of a heavyweight tussle between the world’s best, he simply won’t risk it again as the rewards for both him and Joshua are too immense.  

The problem still remains though, that even if Hearn wraps Joshua up in cotton wool until that day, there is no guarantee that it will actually ever arrive. You could, at best, envision a fight with the loser of Wilder and Fury, and right now that looks like it could be Wilder with the latest boxing odds heavily favouring Fury to win the third bout.   

But then again, seeing as this is now a best-of-three contest, it’s difficult to say for sure when this trilogy will conclude with no date set for the final fight yet.  

Until such a time, Anthony Joshua will carry on looking in as the big boys rumble in the greatest arenas around the world. This whole saga is another reminder of being careful what you wish for, given that for so long, Hearn and Joshua avoided both Wilder and Fury. These days, it is Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder screening calls and there’s no guarantee that Joshua’s ringing will ever stop going to voicemail. 

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