'When the big boys are ready, I'll become the next undisputed champion of the world' - Anthony Joshua lays down his plans

Two-time heavyweight champion plans next fight in March - but Deontay Wilder may have to wait

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Anthony Joshua is targeting a return to the ring in March to defend his heavyweight belts – although a unification bout with Deontay Wilder remains some way off.

The British boxer defeated Andy Ruiz Jr in their rematch in Saudi Arabia on Saturday night to reclaim the WBA, IBF and WBO titles he lost in June and, in doing so, became a two-time world champion.

However, fans hoping for that much-anticipated historic unification clash with WBC champion Wilder will have to wait a little longer. The American is slated to take on lineal champion Tyson Fury in February.

On Sunday, while still in Riyadh, Joshua suggested he would most probably next fight one of his mandatory challengers, either Ukraine's Oleksandr Usyk (WBO) or Bulgarian Kubrat Pulev (IBF).

Not that the urge to go up against Wilder is not there. Asked by Sky Sports about the possibility of meeting the heavy-hitter, Joshua said: "I'm ready. I've got my belts back and I'm ready to fight him. But I'm not looking too far into the future because it takes your eyes off what is front of you.

"I take it step by step and, by the time I get to unification, I will be ready. I'll knock them down one by one and, when the big boys are ready, I'll be ready to become the next undisputed champion of the world. I really want to make that happen."

Yet WBO president Francisco Varcarcel said on Saturday that Joshua had until June 4 to take on Usyk or he would have to relinquish his belt. The dangerous former cruiserweight is also represented by promoter Eddie Hearn, which should make a potential clash easier to make happen.

Pulev, meanwhile, defeated Hughie Fury last year to again become the IBF’s No 1 challenger. He was supposed to fight Joshua in Cardiff in 2017, but withdrew because of a shoulder injury.

“The work begins again because around March I'll be defending those titles again,” Joshua said. “I'm already focusing on my next fight.

"Anyone can get it. The resume shows that, but I'll be keen to handle my mandatories because the current WBC champion is fighting with Tyson Fury, so good luck to them both, that's another exciting fight for the division.

"In the meantime, I will handle my mandatories because I don't want to vacate a belt. I've worked hard to get them so I don't want to give them away."