We’ll nail down August 12 date for Joshua this week, says Hearn
• ‘AJ ‘ll avoid Miller for a less dangerous opponent’
There was a point barely a week after his last fight where Anthony Joshua believed he would have to forgo an August fight for a far-more lucrative year-end opportunity, writes boxingscene.com. That reality is once again in play, though not from a lack of effort by his supporting cast.
Eddie Hearn, Joshua’s career-long promoter, recognises the possibility of not getting his star heavyweight out for a planned August 12 headliner in the U.K. The date was in place from the moment Joshua returned to the win column in a 12-round decision over Jermaine Franklin this past April 1 in London. The absence of a relevant opponent, however, has raised concern that the former two-time unified heavyweight titlist will have to sit out this summer.
“The plan is still August 12, but we absolutely have to nail that down this week,” acknowledged Hearn. “We’re talking to a number of opponents right now. We’ll be doing everything we can to make sure he fights August 12,” he said.”
Joshua (25-3, 22KOs) initially alerted his millions of social media followers on Easter Sunday when he learned that he would likely not fight until December. It was learned soon thereafter that a heavyweight super card was eyed by Saudi Arabia-based outfit, Skill Challenge Promotions, for December in the Middle East. Joshua-Wilder would join the hoped-for Tyson Fury-Oleksandr Usyk undisputed heavyweight championship as part of a blockbuster event.
Still, Matchroom Boxing and DAZN hoped to get at least one more fight in the interim for Joshua to further develop under new trainer, Derrick James. A rematch with Dillian Whyte was the primary focus but Matchroom and Whyte remain too far apart financially to move forward with those plans.
Hearn would not disclose the list of “four or five relevant, top 15” fighters eyed for the August 12 date. However, this weekend will mark just seven weeks left to not only find an opponent, but also properly market such an event.
“The Saudi conversations are ongoing,” revealed Hearn of the greater guarantee of Joshua’s targeted dates for the rest of 2023. “We’re closing in, I’m very confident that fight happens with Deontay Wilder.
“Our main priority now is to nail August 12 if he’s going to fight.” Meanwhile, World Boxing News understands that Joshua is set to reject the advances of rival, Jarrell, Miller in favour of a more straightforward test for the summer.
The British heavyweight had been in talks to face Dillian Whyte, a fighter he’s already defeated as AJ eases back to stellar opposition.
Joshua put a bid on the table to face Whyte in a rematch of their 2015 O2 Arena clash before a deal fell through. Miller’s promoter Dmitriy Salita then offered Joshua his controversial heavyweight.
As Whyte’s brother Dean explained, it’s not the first time Joshua has been embroiled with both foes simultaneously. “It’s a business at the end of the day. Dillian rightly believes that he’s a pay-per-view star, so the money needs to match his level of stardom because there are not many pay-per-view stars in the UK that sell out arenas,” Whyte told CasinoLounge.co.uk.
“They were offering Miller virtually double what they were offering Dillian, which is ludicrous regarding the opponents they’ve faced.
“Miller has never sold out an arena by any stretch of the imagination by himself.”
Whyte complained about being messed around when speaking to Sky Sports.
“I don’t think they’re serious about the fight,” Whyte said.
“They’re worrying about the fight, and I don’t blame them.
“If he’s going to get £50m to fight Wilder in Saudi in December, it baffles me. Why would they take a chance fighting me?
“It doesn’t make sense. So I’m not surprised, to be honest.”
The more likely scenario for Joshua is that Agit Kabayel will be in the opposite corner this August. The German could have been on standby if the Whyte fight fell apart.
However, Miller won’t ever be entertained again due to how things went down last time with AJ. “Big Baby” tested positive for four banned substances in the build-up and was suspended for almost three years.
Andy Ruiz Jr. stepped in and tore Joshua’s world apart in New York. The two-time heavyweight champion will see that as unforgivable, coupled with how dangerous a puncher Miller is right now.
UK fans can look forward to Tyson Fury vs an also-ran ‘contender’ and Joshua vs Kabayel as the top division circus continues in the British Isles.
Facing back-to-back fighters like Jermaine Franklin and Kabayel do nothing for AJ’s career. All they do is prolong his pain of holding no titles.
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