Eddie Hearn has revealed the Plan B in place for Anthony Joshua’s return should a proposed mega-fight with Tyson Fury fall by the wayside.
Joshua has been offered an unexpected lifeline by Fury, who called out the former heavyweight champion for a Battle of Britain earlier this week despite his recent defeat by Oleksandr Usyk.
After a second straight loss against Usyk last month AJ was facing the prospect of slowly rebuilding his way to another world-title shot, but WBC king Fury has instead offered him an immediate shot at redemption.
A 60/40 purse split in the Gypsy King’s favour has already been accepted by Hearn, though the date for their potential blockbuster is so far proving a stumbling block.
And in the event that a showdown with Fury collapses, Hearn says Joshua will return in December against the likes of Filip Hrgovic, Zhilei Zhang or Otto Wallin – before they target a rematch with Dillian Whyte in 2023.
‘He wouldn’t want a soft touch. I think that would work against him,’ the Matchroom boss said to DAZN’s Boxing Show about their Plan B.
‘It’s a top 10 guy; you could pull him out of the rankings yourself. As soon as I start mentioning names, the price goes up. The last thing AJ wants is a gimme fight.
We’re not interested in gimme fights. It’s got to be an element of risk. Look at the top 15. Dillian Whyte is not a fight for December, but it’s a fight for March and the summer, 100 per cent. It’s a big stadium in the UK.
‘You’ve got Filip Hrgovic. He just won. I think it was a poor performance from him. Zhilei Zhang looked good. Otto Wallin had a very close fight with Tyson Fury.
‘Dillian is a very good fighter; he’s a dangerous fighter. I would like to give Dillian a fight in November, and then I’d like to make the AJ fight, subject to the Tyson Fury stuff.
‘These guys have got to get active. Dillian fought in March 2021, and then his next fight was in April 2022. These guys, AJ included, they’ve been having one fight a year because of Covid because of rematches because of mandatories. I want to get them active.
AJ fighting every three months is going to be a tough guy to beat once that confidence is going, once that belief in his training team is going. I spoke to AJ last night, and his message is clear. “If he’s [Fury] serious, let’s do it.”
Like I said, originally the plan was December, February, March, and that could be Dillian Whyte or go into Fury or Wilder or all those guys.’
Joshua avenged his amateur defeat against Whyte back in December 2015, when he knocked out the Brixton fighter after seven swashbuckling rounds at the O2 Arena.