Via Gav Duthie: Given the circumstances in Ukraine, AJ is getting a free pass so as not to fight Oleksandr Usyk. It is understandable what is going on in the WBA, IBF and WBO champion nation that boxing is relegated to his priority list.
AJ should have been heavily criticized for dodging Usyk, but under the circumstances, the situation was completely understandable. Many articles discussed who he should face.
Wilder will be the biggest fight right now, and a domestic wits fight with Joe Joyce has also been mentioned. Maybe even Hughie Fury, Tyson’s cousin could be a screamer.
Of course, given Joshua’s profile, he couldn’t have made any adjustments. You can forget the Wach’s, Duhaupas and Kuzmin of this world; every AJ fight needs blockbuster appeal.
To give a slightly different perspective, why didn’t AJ prepare Usyk for his return by fighting a Southpaw. It’s not possible to create an IQ with a foot and a ring, but it certainly won’t do any harm.
Southpaw-based options (Boxrec top 50)
# 11 Luis Ortiz 33-2
14 Otto Wallin 23-1
#19 Charles Martin 28-3-1
#28 Jerry Forrest 28-4-2
# 29 Zhileil Zhang 23-0-1
#34 Demsey Mckean 21-0
#35 Mike Balogun 18-0
# 38 Zhan Kossobutskiy 17-0
Be honest; it’s not a great group to choose from, so he might not go this route. Luis Ortiz is, to be fair, one of the bigger names out there and has a good IQ.
He looked vulnerable in the final battle against Charles Martin, but he deserves a big final battle. Ortiz is like Shavers of the ’70s and Ruddock of the ’90s, hugely popular and he can definitely cause AJ a few problems.
Otto Wallin only lost to Tyson Fury and is a brilliant operator. Joshua has beaten him twice in amateur bouts, but it was a match that probably wouldn’t be hot, but it was tolerable.
Wallin promoter Dimitry Salita feels DAZN owes him a fight when Dillian Whyte’s fight is called off. Charles Martin was destroyed by Joshua, and Jerry Forrest simply wasn’t a big enough game despite two good performances in draws with Zhilei Zhang and Michael Hunter, respectively, recently.
Zhilei Zhang agreed to take on Filip Hrgovic in the final IBF elimination bout earning $290,000 40% of the bid and would be a good opponent for Joshua. They had fought before when AJ defeated him in a close fight at the 2012 Olympics.
Demsey Mckean is a Dazn fighter, and the Australian is looking for good exposure this year. Honestly, he’s as close to Usyk as you would get. He’s not as polished, but his style is similar but with a lower guard.
He was AJ’s highest fighting partner in the battle with Usyk. The last two would be unacceptable. Mike Balogun had a great win over Tommy Morrison’s son Trey Lippe, so the former Linebacker is doing well, but this is a step too far.
Kazakh Kossobutskiy has a great record of going undefeated and stopping all but one of his 17 wins, but he’s a slow plow, and without a big name, it’s been a fight meaningless.
More Southpaw practice is a good idea, but in reality, objections are scarce. The fans will probably just accept Luis Ortiz as a big fight, maybe Otto Wallin is an okay fight, and although I like Demsey Mckean, it will be a tough trade.