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What could be next for Anthony Joshua as he prepares for tough test against Francis Ngannou? A third bout with Oleksandr Usyk, FINALLY taking on Tyson Fury… or retirement!

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Anthony Joshua will do battle with Francis Ngannou on Friday evening in a money-spinning ‘Knockout Choaos’ event in Riyadh.

There is a lot riding on the result of the bout, with former world champion Joshua looking to continue climbing the heavyweight rankings once again and Ngannou aiming to prove he belongs in the sport after making the jump from MMA.

Whoever wins will likely be plummeted into the world title scene, while the loser could be left with little direction and scratching around for what is next in their career.

For Ngannou, MMA will always be there. He has teased a return to the sport following his exit from UFC, but it’s not the same for Joshua. It’s always been boxing, and another devastating loss could be costly for his career.

Mail Sport has looked at what could be next for the Brit should he win, and should he lose

Anthony Joshua (pictured) is looking to secure himself another potential world title shot in beating Francis Ngannou on Friday

Anthony Joshua (pictured) is looking to secure himself another potential world title shot in beating Francis Ngannou on Friday 

Joshua and Ngannou (right) will go head-to-head in a money-spinning heavyweight bout in Saudi Arabia

Joshua and Ngannou (right) will go head-to-head in a money-spinning heavyweight bout in Saudi Arabia

Tyson Fury

Boxing fans have been wondering for years whether two of Britain’s greatest heavyweight titans will ever face off on the back of countless breakdowns of negotiations.

The pair put their differences aside to pose for an iconic photo alongside Ngannou and Cristiano Ronaldo on Tuesday night, and once again all signs seem to point to a potential face off.

Both men aren’t getting any younger. Fury is 35 and claimed to have retired as recently as his win over Dillian Whyte in early 2022, while Joshua is now 34 and has endured a somewhat change in persona since damaging back-to-back defeats to Oleksandr Usyk.

Should Joshua and Tyson Fury (pictured) both win their next fights, they could finally face off

Should Joshua and Tyson Fury (pictured) both win their next fights, they could finally face off

The pair put their differences aside to pose for an iconic photo in Saudi Arabia this week

The pair put their differences aside to pose for an iconic photo in Saudi Arabia this week

Since then, though, Joshua has registered three victories in a row and is one of the biggest starts in the division. There’s only so much left for him to do. 

‘His Excellency said the winner of this fight faces the winner of Fury-Usyk,’ Joshua’s promoter, Eddie Hearn, told MMA Hour. ‘That is a dream chance for us because we chased that for so long.

‘AJ is going to beat Francis Ngannou, and then he’s going to beat the winner of Fury-Usyk, and he’s going to become the undisputed heavyweight world champion.’

If both men win their bouts, then a fight is possible. And with Fury acknowledging that he struggles to stay out the ring, two losses could lead to a face-off too. 

Fury is preparing for a fight against Oleksandr Usyk (right) in May, with the winner set to face the victor of Friday's bout

Fury is preparing for a fight against Oleksandr Usyk (right) in May, with the winner set to face the victor of Friday’s bout

Oleksandr Usyk

And that leads us to the other champion. Joshua was outclassed twice by the Ukrainian in 2021 and 2022, and many think he would be again, but the Brit would jump at another chance to test himself.

Usyk would cement himself as the best in a very long time should he beat Fury. If Joshua also wins his fight, he would be next in line, bar a potential rematch.

The odds would be heavily in the champion’s favour should he again do battle with AJ, but there may not be much left for him to do either.

But Joshua had no interest in being tempted into revealing his next opponent this week, insisting he had one thing on his mind when speaking to Mail Sport in Saudi Arabia.

‘Just get this fight out the way,’ Joshua stressed. ‘That’s my main focus.’

Insisting he has never dodged anyone, the former Olympic champion would almost certainly push for a third bout with Usyk should the opportunity present itself. 

Usyk could be set for a third fight against Joshua if he can get past Fury late on this year

Usyk could be set for a third fight against Joshua if he can get past Fury late on this year

Usyk has already beaten Joshua twice, with the second fight the most damaging loss of Joshua's career

Usyk has already beaten Joshua twice, with the second fight the most damaging loss of Joshua’s career

Usyk would be heavy favourite should the pair cross paths again following victories in their next bouts

Usyk would be heavy favourite should the pair cross paths again following victories in their next bouts

Deontay Wilder

Deontay Wilder is another name Joshua has been long-linked with facing, but it is a fight that has never quite materialised.

The closest they came was this week, in theory. The heavyweight pair were supposed to face off on the back of being on the same ‘Day of Reckoning’ card late last year, which saw Joshua stop Otto Wallin.

Wilder’s shock defeat to Joseph Parker, however, put a stop to that.

The American declared on social media almost instantly that he would not be retiring following the loss and, at 38 and with a title shot not likely to be in the picture any time soon, he may be best suited cutting his losses.

Only a defeat on Friday would see this potential bout made but Wilder may have to secure one or two wins first to make it happen. At this point, the bout seems unlikely. 

Joshua has been long-linked with a fight against Deontay Wilder and could finally face the American

Joshua has been long-linked with a fight against Deontay Wilder and could finally face the American

Plans for the duo to face off were binned when Wilder lost to Joseph Parker (right) last year

Plans for the duo to face off were binned when Wilder lost to Joseph Parker (right) last year

Other options

There are of course other names and avenues that could crop up. The likes of Dillian Whyte, who Joshua beat way back in 2015 and was supposed to face in 2023, will always be an option.

Whyte has reportedly been cleared to return to the ring after a contaminated supplement was found to have been the cause of his positive drugs test that meant his second fight with Joshua was cancelled, and will be eager to prove a point.

Joe Joyce is looking to bounce back from a heavy defeat to Zhilei Zhang, and Zhang himself may need a dance partner for his next title defence if he can get past Parker on the co-main event of this weekend’s card.

Dillian Whyte has reportedly been cleared to return to the ring following a positive drugs test

Dillian Whyte has reportedly been cleared to return to the ring following a positive drugs test

Zhilei Zhang will need another opponent to defend his title agaisnt should he get past Parker

Joe Joyce, meanwhile, is looking to respond to his shock defeat to Zhang

Zhilei Zhang (left) and Joe Joyce (right) are set to be on the lookout for opponents, by fights against Joshua seem long shots

There’s Daniel Dubois. Parker himself. Frank Sanchez. But at this point we are just throwing heavyweight names around.

And then there’s retirement. Many though Joshua would call it a day after his second defeat to Usyk, the Brit losing his cool after the decision and unquestionably losing his spot in the debate of the best heavyweight around.

He carried on and has worked his way back up the rankings, seemingly ready for another title shot should he earn victory on Friday night, as he is by many expected to do.

Lose, though, and that title shot will be a long way away. And there may only be one option left.