After conquering Wembley, Anthony Joshua will bid to become a global star

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Now that he is one of the biggest superstars in world sport, the next instalment of Anthony Joshua's astonishing journey is likely to take him abroad.

Any potential re-match of Saturday's epic battle against Wladimir Klitschko will head to a football stadium in Germany, where the 41-year-old Ukrainian has a massive fan base.

There also lurks the thorny question of what Joshua's team wish to do about the looming mandatory defence of the IBF heavyweight title against the Bulgarian Kubrat Pulev, which US sources are already insisting will not be set aside by the sanctioning body.

Promoter Eddie Hearn has indicated that if Joshua meets this requirement it is also likely to take place overseas - the logic being that the night of thrills and glory just passed cannot possibly be matched by a date with the little-known Pulev for a British crowd.

It would also mark the beginning of a strategy to further build Joshua's profile and marketing value abroad, with the long-term aim being an unprecedented plan to box in Africa, the Far East - particularly China - and the Middle East as well as the old fight game heartland of the USA.

Klitschko has three months to activate his contracted re-match clause.

But he must weigh up whether the close and historically dramatic nature of Saturday's fight - Joshua is "vulnerable," he said - warrants another gruelling training camp at the age of 41.

But Joshua said: "I wouldn't mind fighting him again. No problem. If my trainer, Rob McCracken thinks it’s good to go, well go.

"We could definitely do it again.

"I always knew I would be up against a new and improved Klitschko from the one who lost to Tyson Fury.

"Now I know I can knock out anyone. I'm happy it was a great fight against Wladimir because there was a lot of hype.

"I don’t say I’m the best at everything. But what I am good at I will do to my best."


Trainer McCracken added: "That will have taken a lot more out of Wladimir than Anthony, that's for sure."

One alternative is for Joshua to relinquish the IBF belt which he won against Charles Martin last year and has now defended three times, adding the WBA "Super" Heavyweight title to his collection with his stunning 11th round stoppage of Klitschko.

The truth is that Joshua might be able to call any shots he likes on the global scene given the thrilling nature of the contest with Klitschko and the reverberations it has sent rumbling through the sport.

Onto the next one 🌎 #AJBoxing

— Anthony Joshua (@anthonyfjoshua) April 29, 2017

After knocking down Klitschko in the fifth round, being floored himself in the sixth and then delivering an explosive 11th-round finish, Joshua matched all the hype preceding the 90,000 sell-out Wembley date - and launched himself in to the ranks of the elite worldwide sporting attractions.

He displayed power, heart, grit and boxing brains. Add that to his magnificent physique, his easy, articulate charm and his determination not be changed by superstardom, and he presents a package which will make him the highest paid sportsman in British history - a hugely popular household name already.


It is also likely that he could fill any stadium here against any opponent now because he has gained phenomenon status, with Hearn correctly hailing Joshua as "the biggest star in British sport."

The Klitschko fight set a new record for British pay-per-view take-up.

Hearn, though, is mindful about over-egging the pudding; even if there will be a huge clamour to see Joshua in action again here soon, he now has to work out a balancing act.

Governing bodies like the IBF can be stubborn and demanding in the extreme, and the job for Hearn now is to plot the way forward which will best suit Joshua’s wishes of ruling the division for at least the next five years.

Although Joshua instantly called out the controversial Fury in the ring after his victory on Saturday, the Manchester fighter is currently a long way from fitness.

Last October, Fury surrendered the world heavyweight titles he won against Klitschko in November 2015 in an bid to focus on his mental health problems.

He then had his licence temporarily revoked by the British Boxing Board of Control and has not fought since that win over the Ukrainian.

The American WBC champion, Deontay Wilder was at the ringside and Joshua could pursue him early next year - with Hearn's stated intention that the 27-year-old Londoner should fight no more than twice a year now.

Pulev, 35, scored a unanimous points decision against the American Kevin Johnson in Sofia on Friday night. In their current rankings, Sky Sports list Pulev as being ninth best heavyweight in the world.

Joshua beat Johnson in 2015 with a second-round knockout in the 13th fight of his undefeated 19-fight career.

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The fact that Pulev had to go the distance with a 37-year-old Johnson - who had lost four of his previous five fights - illustrates perfectly the problem about Pulev providing a far less attractive draw than Klitschko did for 27-year-old Johnson.

The fact that the Bulgarian - who is WBA Intercontinental champion - is promoted by the German-based Sauerland organisation might help Joshua make any such fight a big occasion there.

Hearn said: "It was the ultimate gamble taking on Klitschko but it paid off.

"To do it in the way he has done it has confirmed AJ as the biggest star in British sport and the biggest star in boxing."

Joshua added: "I don’t box for the belts or the money. I just enjoy it."