ANTHONY JOSHUA hopes to fight again in early 2018 – March or April was mentioned by his promoter Eddie Hearn – after confirming that his nose is not broken following a bruising tussle with Carlos Takam.

The WBA and IBF heavyweight champion bludgeoned the brave challenger to defeat in the 10th round, referee Phil Edwards stopping the bout at 1-34, but not before Takam’s head had smashed into Joshua’s nose early in the second round.

“With the old headbutt, you don’t see it coming,” Joshua explained. “It’s harder than a punch because it’s bone on bone. But everyone did a good job in the corner and controlled the bleeding. It was just getting through that round, because the referee doesn’t give you [time to recover]. You really want 10 minutes, just to get yourself together and clean yourself up. But it’s an experience, it happens in a fight. I had to make sure I didn’t take a silly shot because it was ready to start gushing with blood but they managed it in the corner.”

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Joshua dabbed at his nose following the collision, and immediately after the bout expressed his concern that it might be broken.

“It feels [broken],” he said. “But I imagine if it’s broke and I couldn’t breath and he would have started catching up in the middle rounds. It would have been a disaster so I kept my cool.

“You have to control these situations because if I showed any signs of weakness the ref could have jumped in.”

But the doctor examined his nose in the dressing room after the bout and confirmed there was no break.

“It’s really sore,” Joshua said while tugging at it and dismissing worries it could keep him out of the ring. “Nah, it’s just swollen right now. The doctor checked it, no stress, it’s just really sore.”

It remains to be seen where Joshua fights next. There have long been plans to take the Englishman to the US, but Hearn admitted it would be shame to leave the UK stadium fights behind. Joshua, too, is keen to keep delivering huge events for his supporters.

When asked whether he would like to fight WBO champion Joseph Parker or WBC boss Deontay Wilder next, Joshua let his trainer Rob McCracken do the talking.

“They’re both winnable fights for Anthony,” McCracken said. “Anthony is the unified champion in my eyes. I think Parker and Wilder in that order because it will be a bigger fight with Wilder down the road than it is right now.”

Joshua added, “My next few fights might be mandatories because their obligations I have to fill. I’m just focusing keeping belts by any means. I may have to fight the WBA mandatory next but we’ll see. Unless Rob tells me otherwise, I’m just focusing on kepping my belts and getting from here and winning. It’s not about my 21st fight or my 22nd fight, it’s 15 fights from now, or five or 10 years from now. It’s the long-term strategy.”

Hearn insisted he will do all he can to ensure Joshua does unify the division but – with a nod to recent failed negotiations to get Wilder in the ring with Dillian Whyte – admitted securing those contests will be difficult.

“There’s nothing straighforward about organising a heavyweight unification fight,” Hearn said, “especially when someone is not going to like the reality of what they’re worth.”