Joshua Eyes Swift Return, Welcomes Hrgovic Challenge

By Jamie Eskdale - 03/09/2024 - Comments

Anthony Joshua wants to quickly return to the ring in June or July to challenge for the potentially vacant IBF heavyweight world title.

Joshua (28-3, 25 KOs) took care of Francis Ngannou last Friday with a lightning-fast first-round knockout in Riyadh to make some money, but now he wants to return to serious fights that mean something for world titles.

The Saudis are the ones who wanted Joshua to fight Ngannou, and the victory was an excellent yardstick for AJ to show the public the difference between him and Tyson Fury.

Ngannou gave ‘The Gypsy King’ Fury massive problems last October, coming close to beating him but winding up on the losing end of a controversial ten-round split decision in Riyadh.

The Hrgovic Showdown

Joshua is reportedly interested in facing #1 IBF-ranked contender Filip Hrgovic next summer for the vacant IBF title if the winner of the Tyson Fury vs. Oleksandr Usyk fight elects to use the rematch clause to force a second clash.

Defeating Hrgovic (17-0, 14 KOs) would make Joshua a two-time IBF champion and give him a bargaining chip to use in negotiations for the winner of the Fury-Usyk rematch.

Hrgovic has looked impressive lately, defeating Mark De Mori, Demsey McKean and Zhilei Zhang in his last three fights to earn the #1 spot in the International Boxing Federation rankings to become mandatory for Usyk’s belt.

Staying Active is Key

Joshua’s win over Ngannou was his fourth since last year, showing the importance of staying active. AJ is fighting much better now than when he competed annually from 2020 to 2022.

With Joshua’s renewed hunger, he wants to continue his momentum to capture the IBF belt and then face the Fury vs. Usyk winner, provided he gets past Hrgovic.

It would be a brave move on Joshua’s part to face Hrgovic because this guy is levels above the four recent heavyweights AJ’s promoter, Eddie Hearn, who has matched him against him in the last year.

Time is of the Essence

Hrgovic is a true world-class fighter, not the lower-level guys that Hearn has matched Joshua against recently to build his self-confidence back up against his two defeats against Usyk.

It’ll never be if the 34-year-old Joshua’s confidence isn’t restored now. He can’t continue to fight the second-tier opposition that he’s being matched against without wasting what’s left of his prime years.