Despite finally agreeing to fight mandatory challenger Alexander Povetkin in September, British heavyweight Anthony Joshua has had half an eye on the upcoming battle of two previously vanquished foes; Dillian Whyte and Joseph Parker.
Joshua bested Whyte in a thrilling battle in December 2015, and relieved Parker of his WBO strap in March this year.
In beating Parker via unanimous decision (the only time he has failed to knock out his opponent in the professional ranks) Joshua fought a more reserved fight and at times seemed reluctant to put his chin up against Parker’s power.
Although both boxing fans and Joshua himself would prefer to see the WBA, WBO and IBF champ fight American Deontay Wilder in April 2019, a fight between the two is not a given if previous attempts to make the fight are anything to go by.
The two locked horns repeatedly over social media and progress eventually screeched to a halt, neither side willing to give ground to the other.
If a fight with Wilder at Wembley is not made for April (Joshua already has the 18th of that month booked) Joshua may well wind up in a rematch with Whyte or Parker.
Making his prediction on who will win between the two, Joshua told Sky Sports: “I’m going with Dillian and I’m going by knockout as well.
“You’re probably thinking what’s my reason I’m going by knockout. I feel like Dillian aint got nothing to lose.
“He’s been screaming at world champions saying I want to fight there and I want to fight here, and I feel like he wants to prove himself.”
Whyte has been hollering at the door of both Joshua and Wilder in recent times and is on a seven-fight winning streak since losing to his domestic rival.
He last appeared on our screens when he brutally knocked out Australian Lucas Browne in March.
Revealing that he adapted his usual game-plan for the Parker fight, Joshua said: “Parker can take a shot. I feel like in my fight he was on the back foot. I boxed clever because I wanted to set up the big fight with Wilder.
“So I wanted to box clever so I could secure the next one without taking no risk.”
A super-fight against Wilder is clearly Joshua’s ultimate goal, and in revealing that his cautious display against Parker was with one eye on the American, it is logical to conclude he may adopt a similar game plan against Povetkin.
A fight to fully unify the heavyweight division may be put in jeopardy should Joshua lose to Povetkin, but if he gives too much respect to the Russian’s undoubted power fans could have another chess match on their hands.
However, Joshua will be wary of appearing too risk adverse to his loyal fanbase, his popularity being based as much on the excitement he brings to his fights as the charisma displayed between them.
Assuming Joshua’s prediction of Whyte emerging victorious against Parker comes to pass, British boxing fans are likely to go cock a hoop at the prospect of seeing a Great British rivalry reigniting.