Promoter Eddie Hearn has a tentative shortlist of capable opponents for Anthony Joshua’s next fight.
The Matchroom head named Agit Kabayel, Filip Hrgovic, and Otto Wallin has possible foes for his star client, who has, according to Hearn, expressed a keen desire to fight in December.
Hearn, however, indicated that Joshua could also end up returning in January.
Joshua has fought twice this year, including a decision over Jermaine Franklin in the spring and a brutal stoppage of Robert Helenius in August.
Hearn was also asked about Mahmoud Charr, the WBA “regular” heavyweight champion, but he seemed less enthusiastic about that possibility.
“Not overly,” Hearn told SecondsOut when asked about Charr as an opponent for Joshua. “He’s looking for an opponent. He’s got the WBA regular title, which we certainly wouldn’t be saying Joshua is a three-time heavyweight champion [if he won that belt]. Definitely not.
“But at the same time, if he’s going to fight someone in December, I’m not saying it will be Charr, but it could be Kabayel. It could be Hrgovic or Wallin out of this situation, let’s see what happens.”
Hearn ruled out Deontay Wilder, Andy Ruiz or Zhilei Zhang as possibilities for Joshua.
Joshua, of course, was in talks with Wilder for the greater part of the past year about fighting but those plans have gone awry after the original backer, the Saudi Arabian outfit Skill Challenge Entertainment, failed to come up with the necessary funds. Hearn, however, has continued to claim that a Joshua vs. Wilder fight could take place next spring.
“It’s not going to be Deontay Wilder, it’s not going to be Andy Ruiz, and it probably won’t be Zhang,” Hearn said. “So you have to look at that top-15.
“Honestly, we haven’t really—we’re more [sure] on the date than the opponent. He wants to fight in December. In his head he says he wanted to fight three times in a year. But I said, ‘you fought in April.’ He said, ‘no, I want to fight three times in 2023.’ So he would love to get in in December. And we’ll have to keep one eye on the 23rd (of December) because we just don’t know what’s going to happen.”
Hearn added that there’s a 50% chance that Joshua fights in December and 100% chance he fights in January.
Sean Nam is the author of Murder on Federal Street: Tyrone Everett, the Black Mafia, and the Last Golden Age of Philadelphia Boxing.