British born Nigerian world heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua has made known his desire to defend his titles in his Nigeria after his rematch victory against Andy Ruiz in Saudi Arabia.
Since defeating Andy Ruiz, there have been offers for Anthony Joshua to stage future fights in several locations around the world. Africa is among those to have shown interest and the 30-year-old would prefer his native Nigeria to connect with his roots.
A fight in Nigeria, Anthony Joshua’s parent country would be the first outside South Africa since Muhammad Ali and George Foreman participated in the ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ in Zaire.
“People were telling me I should go back [to Nigeria] for ages,” Joshua told reporters. “It was crazy because they don’t have 24-hour electricity but they still know me and support me.”
AJ told Pulse FM earlier in the year that he is “massively into Nigerian culture” which showed as he opted for the song ‘Water Get No Enemy’ by Nigerian legend Fela Kuti during his ring-walk on Saturday.
Anthony’s comments should be taken with a pinch of salt, however. About 24hrs after his victory in Saudi Arabia, he was singing the praise of London and its fanbase, with Tottenham Hotspur’s new stadium mooted as a potential destination.
London is likely to be next for a match, but Joshua has a firm ambition to defend his titles in Nigeria.
“I went to the ghettos of the ghettos where it’s not all about egos and beef, it’s about people who are hungry to survive,” he reflected on his visit across the Mediterranean. “It was one of the best things I’ve done. Africa’s rooting for me for sure, so I would definitely love to fight out there.”
Joshua has two upcoming boxing commitments for 2020 – an International Boxing Federation (IBF) clash against Kubrat Pulev and a later World Boxing Organisation (WBO) fight which is likely to be against Oleksandr Usyk.
Joshua will need to defend his status from the Bulgarian and Ukrainian heavyweights, after working hard to snatch his titles back from the Mexican underdog Ruiz.
Joshua will need to defend his status from the Bulgarian and Ukrainian heavyweights
“The plan is to maintain the belts, so we will have to have conversations this week with the IBF and the WBO to see who goes first,” AJ’s promoter Eddie Hearn told The Telegraph.
“It’s our understanding that the IBF mandatory comes first, which is Pulev, so realistically it is Pulev and then Usyk in that order, with Dereck Chisora fighting Usyk in February or March and then AJ fighting the winner.”
Joshua added: “I can’t get too caught up in the moment and have to stay focused on the task at hand, which is not staying undefeated any more, but staying champion for as long as possible.”