THE plan for Anthony Joshua is to fight WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder after his WBA and IBF title unification clash with Wladimir Klitschko. But if Joshua beats Klitschko, even then it will be a tricky balancing act to hold on to all his titles, with different mandatory challengers for the WBA and IBF belts.
“Our aim for Joshua is after Klitschko to fight Deontay Wilder,” said promoter Eddie Hearn. “As we saw with Tyson Fury, you can’t hold on to all the belts at once and be in all the fights you want to be in. After this fight, there’ll be [Kubrat] Pulev and there’ll be [Luis] Ortiz, they’ll be mandatories. Whether there’ll be exceptions taken. We’ve already had one with the IBF, so that limits our opportunities there.
“We understand that we can’t hold on to the belts forever because if we do, we won’t be in the fights that we want to be in all the time. No disrespect to Pulev but after Klitschko people aren’t going to be wanting Anthony Joshua to fight Pulev, a guy who Klitschko knocked out in four or five rounds. So it’s very difficult and I think there comes a time when the fighter and the fights eclipse the belts. While the belts mean a hell of a lot I feel Joshua is approaching that stage now.”
In the mean time though Joshua’s old rival Dillian Whyte could challenge Wilder. “I want that fight for Dillian now,” Hearn said. “It’s a great marker, if you like, but I actually think Dillian Whyte can beat him. So I don’t see it as a marker. But there’ll be plenty of comparisons. I think Dillian will give him an outstanding fight and I think it’s a great fight for TV. Now Joshua’s stepping up and fighting the likes of Klitschko. It’s not just his fault because he was going to go Russia and fight Povetkin and then he’s been injured but I’d like to see him step up into a real test.”
But Whyte won’t be boxing on the Joshua-Klitschko undercard. “He won’t be ready. He doesn’t want to box until late May or something like that,” Hearn continued.
He does expect Whyte to be pushing for a world title fight, rather than a rematch with Dereck Chisora. “He wants to move up the world rankings, he wants a shot at the world title and he’s not just really motivated by money. If he was there’s an obvious fight, the Chisora rematch. What Dillian Whyte is really keen to do is move up the world rankings,” the promoter explained. “Arguably the biggest money out there for him at the moment is Chisora, but that’s not really what’s motivating him. I think there’s a good chance the Chisora fight will happen again, whether that’s next or the one after next, I don’t know.”
For the Joshua undercard, Hearn suggested, “I think people are presuming it’ll be a weak undercard. It won’t be. What it will be is there’ll be fewer fights than normal, because of the timing pressure that we’re under. I think the first fight will be at 6.15, something like that and the Joshua fight will be sharp at 10 o’clock. What we’ll have is three to four championship fights and then mixed in with some of our young talent. I think Katie Taylor might box on the card, some of the Olympic boys etc.”