WHO is Anthony Joshua going to fight next? According to the WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight champion’s promoter, Eddie Hearn, Deontay Wilder remains the “number one choice”. Tyson Fury – fresh off a contentious draw with the WBC boss – is number two.
As well as Wilder and Fury – both seemingly long shots at this point – Hearn named Dillian Whyte, Dereck Chisora and Oleksandr Usyk as potential Anthony Joshua opponents when he returns to Wembley Stadium on April 13.
The likeliest outcome would seem to be that Wilder and Fury contest a rematch, with the December 22 winner of the Hearn-promWhyte-Chisora II stepping in to challenge Joshua in April.
“It’s interesting with everything that’s been happening with Wilder and Fury,” said Hearn. “We don’t know what’s going to happen.
“If we get Wilder, which would be our number one choice, brilliant. If we get Fury, which is our number two choice, brilliant. If not, we look at December 22 and say the winner of that fight is a must, if we don’t get Wilder or Fury.
“The heavyweight scene is vibrant right now you have to say, the winner of Whyte-Chisora is the number four heavyweight in the world. Beyond that you’ve got Luis Ortiz, Jarrell Miller and a whole list of guys that would all give you competitive fights and that hasn’t been the case for a long, long time.
“The winner will not just want to fight ‘AJ’, the public will say ‘Okay, you can’t get Wilder or Fury, so fight Whyte or Chisora.’ And if they win by brutal knockout, and these guys are shouting and screaming for a world title shot, people’s opinions quickly turn. Don’t get me wrong, the public, now, want AJ-Wilder or AJ-Fury or a Fury-Wilder rematch. After December 22 that could all change.”
There have been reports that Usyk is primed for the April date with Joshua. Hearn would not rule this out but claimed it was unlikely.
“Apparently that’s already done for April 13 but we’ve not had a conversation with Usyk,” Hearn said. “I’m seeing him this week and he’s coming over for the fight next week as well. Usyk, unless he’s completely crazy, will want one or two fights at heavyweight before he fights Anthony Joshua. But maybe he fancies it.
“Jarrell Miller is another one. Maybe we go to America. Miller against one of these guys [Whyte or Chisora], if Joshua gets Wilder. Anything can happen on April 13, anything. It could be Wilder, it could be Fury, it could be Chisora, it could be Whyte, it could be Usyk.”
Hearn – who heads to New York this week to watch over Rocky Fielding’s bout with Canelo Alvarez – indicated talks are again underway with Wilder’s team following failed negotiations in the summer. The two camps could not strike a deal back after a string of public moves from both sides failed to have the desired effect.
“I can’t tell you now [who Joshua will fight],” said Hearn. “I made the mistake last time, we both did, both camps, of talking too much during negotiations so I’m not saying anything this time.
“I’m going to try because I want to make it [Joshua-Wilder] happen.”