Posted on 01/02/2024
By: Sean Crose
“The fight’s dead.”
With those few words, promoter Eddie Hearn put to bed any question as to whether or not his fighter, former heavyweight titlist Anthony Joshua, would be facing fellow former heavyweight titlist Deontay Wilder in the near future. The truth was that the two supersized heavies were supposed to throw down this year in Saudi Arabia. Wilder was stunned in late December, however, by yet another former heavyweight titlist, Joseph Parker. Perhaps if Wilder had looked better than he did against Parker, a fight with Joshua might still be a possibility. The hard hitting American’s performance was so lackluster, however, that one can’t blame Joshua and Hearn for losing interest in the bout.
“The numbers don’t work now because Wilder’s a busted flush at the moment,” Hearn told IFL TV. “It’s a mismatch, AJ against him at the moment.” Hearn then went on to indicate that he never thought all that highly of Wilder as a fighter. “He hasn’t beaten anyone,” the Matchroom Boxing honcho said. “He ain’t in AJ’s league…I was delighted for Joseph Parker, but unfortunately he got the chance to do what we would have done.” And where does team Joshua intend to go now that the hoped for fight with Wilder has fallen through? “Right now we have three fight’s that we’re in discussions for,” said Hearn. “They’re all big.” Ultimately, however, Hearn wants Joshua back at the top of the heavyweight heap. “Our aim…is to fight the winner of (Tyson) Fury-(Oleksandr) Usyk,” said Hearn. “That’s all we want to do.”
That, of course, would be no small task. Usyk has beaten Joshua handily twice, after all. Now that he’s going to fight Fury next month for the undisputed heavyweight championship of the world, a rematch will most likely be in order. That means it would probably be some time before Joshua were to get either man in the ring. Not that Hearn or Joshua are deterred. “The thing AJ wants to do is be in massive fights,” said Hearn, “win the world heavyweight title and fight Tyson Fury or get another crack at Usyk.” Hearn has good reason to feel confident, frankly. After being in a slump, Joshua looked extremely impressive when he recently fought Otto Wallin on the same card that saw Wilder lose to Parker. Indeed, Joshua finished his man in the fifth, when Wallin’s corner stopped the fight in what Hearn’s called Joshua’s “best performance.”
To Hearn it’s now all a matter of keeping the momentum going. “We just have to keep winning,” he said. “If Fury beats Usyk, AJ against Fury is absolutely colossal, colossal.”