Anthony Joshua has had many possible opponents mooted for 2018.
After his promoter Eddie Hearn suggested in October that he’d like him (Joshua) to fight three times in 2018, fans and pundits alike have been playing the guessing game as to who those three fights could be.
This week, the most obvious opponent was all-but confirmed, as Joshua reached a proceeds split agreement with WBO champion Joseph Parker.
Hearn also stated that Joshua would have to face a mandatory challenger for his WBA belt in 2018 at some point too; a situation thrown up in the air by Luis Ortiz’s drugs ban.
One of Alexander Ustinov and Alexander Povetkin are the most likely alternative to Ortiz, which leaves Joshua’s third opponent a mystery.
The consensus has been that AJ will intend to make history and unify the heavyweight division in 2018, meaning a fight with undefeated juggernaut Deontay Wilder should round out the year.
However, with Tyson Fury re-emerging soon, after his two-year layoff, the prospect of a British super-fight between the pair is becoming harder to ignore. Particularly with the barbs that they’ve traded on Twitter over the past year.
Now though, former cruiserweight world champion and Sky Sports pundit Johnny Nelson has put forward another British legend as a suggestion for Joshua’s third opponent of the year.
“(When) it comes to the last of the three…everyone will say Fury or Wilder, but I am going to go for David Haye.
"Yes, that means I see him winning his rematch with Bellew, but after that, him going in against Joshua will be a massive fan’s favourite. That, in late summer, what a fight that would be!”
Both fighters bring a legion of loyal fans with them, and the fight would certainly be a ratings hit, but there are question marks over if it would deliver as a spectacle.
Whilst undoubtedly one of the most talented British boxers of all time, Haye has battled numerous injuries over his career, including an Achilles problem in his last bout.
He looked sloppy, ponderous, and every bit the 36-year-old against Bellew. Now, aged 37, and having had yet more time out to deal with injuries, a bicep tear being cited as the reason for postponing his December rematch with Bellew, it’s questionable whether he would pose an intriguing enough challenge for Joshua.
A slug-fest it may be, but in the era of money fights, Hearn may well be taking a leaf out of the Mayweather-McGregor playbook when considering Haye as a future opponent.
Nelson’s claims aren’t totally unfounded, AJ also stated in October: "It's not a matter of if, (but rather) a matter of when, when it comes to the likes of David Haye and Deontay Wilder. We have to fight each other and that’s just the way."
It would seem that the allure of 90,000 at Wembley again is just too tempting to resist.
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