ANTHONY JOSHUA is adamant a lack of depth in the heavyweight division will not affect his ability to build an all-time-great legacy.
The 27-year-old WBA and IBF heavyweight champion must see off mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium on October 28 before he can look ahead to unification fights in 2018.
Deontay Wilder, the WBC champion, and WBO belt-holder Joseph Parker will be high on Joshua’s hitlist but, beyond them, there seems a lack of marquee names.
With Tyson Fury still unlicensed and some way off his fighting weight and David Haye scheduled to face Tony Bellew in a rematch on December 17, a domestic showdown with either of the country’s other big names seems further away than ever.
Meanwhile, the division suffered another damaging blow late in September when the WBA’s mandatory challenger Luis Ortiz, who represented another meaningful fight for Joshua, tested positive for a banned substance.
That news put a line through his anticipated clash with Wilder in New York, set for November 4 in New York, and also damaged the chances of him ever facing Joshua.
But although a lack of genuine competition could affect the way he is remembered, Joshua remains relaxed. “It’s true,” he said. “But it’s down to fights.
“Looking forward you never know. People might say Pulev is an easy fight but he might come and put me in a place I haven’t been before that I didn’t expect maybe.
“It might be a barnstorming fight. You just never know what’s going to happen.”
Muhammad Ali forged his legacy via unforgettable fights against the likes of Joe Frazier, George Foreman and Ken Norton. Later, Mike Tyson, Lennox Lewis and Evander Holyfield all tangled during another glittering decade for the division.
Joshua added: “If I fight Joe Bloggs, who the bookies may not have put in a position to beat me, but he ends up putting up one hell of a fight, that takes his stock up and it creates that type of Ali-Frazier, that trilogy.
“You have to remember Frazier was a gold medalist, Ali, Foreman, they were all peak level fighters of the era, and they all came together and ended up fighting each other.
“It seems we don’t have that right now but Joe Joyce has just turned pro and Tony Yoka too. So there’s a new wave coming through. In three years as a pro I’ve managed to catch the attentions of the division and I will definitely give all these guys the opportunity to come and challenge for the belt.”
As well as Joyce and Yoka, who have both turned over since they clashed for the super-heavyweight gold medal at the Rio Olympics last year, Joshua is also keeping a close eye on the fledgling career of Daniel Dubois.
The towering pair have sparred in Sheffield and Dubois [seen bombing AJ Carter below] claims he floored the world champion during one of the sessions. He is now 5-0 with all wins coming inside two rounds.
Dubois’ promoter Frank Warren has described him as Britain’s most powerful heavyweight of the last 30 years but, at just 20 years old, any conversation about facing Joshua is at least a few years premature.
“Will my path cross with Dubois? Yes. All heavyweights have an opportunity to make a big play in the division,” Joshua said. “He’ll be a player amongst the rest and I will fight him at some stage when he moves up.”
When asked how far Dubois, veteran of just seven senior amateur contests, is from world level, Joshua said: “How can I say? He has people guiding him, so it’s kind of their choice.
“How many fights has he had? Three or four. He’s a long way off. If a fighter wants a sprint, he can go all guns blazing, but they don’t last long.
“I was watching a documentary and I saw Klitschko when he got beaten. But then where are the guys who beat Klitschko? You don’t hear of them, do you? How do you prolong your career, your legacy? You can’t rush.
“I don’t know what Dubois will do, it’s up to them whether they put him on a 100m course or a 400m track and they create a career or a legacy for him.”
So does Joshua need the likes of Dubois, Joyce and Yoka to get a move on in order to add more depth to his 19-0 record?
“No, I don’t need it,” he said. “I’m creating my own pathway, I don’t need anyone. I’m just happy going at my own pace, it’s not a sprint, it’s a career. I’ve got another 10 years in the game and I can’t fight everyone by next year, it’s just not possible. I’m planning for the long term, not the short term, and everything will work out for the best.
“If I fight Daniel Dubois tomorrow it will be a big fight, if I fight Joe Joyce tomorrow it will be a big fight. That’s the way the division is rocking at the moment, I don’t need to put all my eggs in one basket with one opponent at the moment.
“I could fight anyone and it would be a big fight. People just want to see who’s going to be the man to beat me. That’s what people come out for — to see me knock someone out cold or to see them knock me out cold. It’s one or the other.”