Eddie Hearn has confirmed future plans for the much-anticipated return of the former unified heavyweight champion, Anthony Joshua.
Joshua hasn’t fought since picking up the third loss of his career in August when he was defeated over 12 rounds in a rematch with Oleksandr Usyk. However, AJ’s promoter, Eddie Hearn, has laid out a three-fight plan for the former world champion in 2023.
Speaking to the DAZN Boxing Show, Hearn confirmed that he hopes to bring AJ back against a top 15-ranked heavyweight first, before a rematch with former foe Dillian Whyte, leading to a ‘mega fight’ with either WBC world champion Tyson Fury or fearsome power-puncher Deontay Wilder towards the end of the year.
“The plan now is to rebuild him to become a three-time world heavyweight champion, and the trainer will want to take the appropriate steps to do that.”
“It’s all very well being brave and listening to Twitter, and going out there and fighting Deontay Wilder … but there has to be a plan, a smart plan. And the smart plan is he wants to return against a top 15 guy – a credible fight.
Then move forward in the summer with probably Dillian Whyte, and then move forward against I guess Deontay Wilder, Tyson Fury, into a mega fight in the autumn of 2023.”
“I truly believe Deontay Wilder or Tyson Fury are nailed on for 2023. They have to be.
Hearn expects Joshua to fight at the beginning of April, and told International Boxing News that the fight will likely land at the O2 Arena in London, an Arena that AJ has never tasted defeat in as a professional.
Names such as Otto Wallin, Zhilei Zhang and Demsey McKean have been mentioned as potential opponents for Joshua’s return.
Providing Joshua comes through his return fight, a rematch with Dillian Whyte would do big numbers in the UK, as the pair put on a thriller in 2015, which saw Joshua avenge a loss to Whyte in the amateurs, emphatically stopping the Brixton man in the seventh round.
The final phase of Hearn’s three-fight plan for AJ could be a complicated matter. Whilst Wilder held the WBC title between 2015 and 2020, the fight with Joshua was often discussed but a deal never got over the line. As with Fury, the fight has been close to agreement on many occasions, most recently in September 2022, however, it is another fight that has yet to come to fruition, despite many negotiations.
Joshua will look to climb back to the top of the heavyweight division in 2023, in 2021, AJ committed his promotional future to Matchroom for the rest of his career, before committing to DAZN as his exclusive broadcaster in 2022.