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Anthony Joshua: Deontay Wilder fight will happen, probably in 2023

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Anthony Joshua expects a long-awaited heavyweight blockbuster against Deontay Wilder to happen in 2023.

The two former world champions, who once held all four of the division’s major belts between them when each was undefeated, are looking to fire themselves back into the world title picture over the next 12 months.

Joshua (24-3, 22 KOs) came up short despite an improved showing in his rematch with Oleksandr Usyk in September, while Wilder (43-2-1, 42 KOs) returned to action with an explosive first-round knockout of Robert Helenius last month — the American’s first outing since back-to-back losses concluded his dramatic trilogy with WBC champion Tyson Fury.

Fury once again tantalised fans with talk of a meeting against Joshua finally coming to fruition in December, only for negotiations to break down before the Gypsy King opted for a comparatively underwhelming third encounter with popular veteran Derek Chisora.

Joshua has conceded that being outside the title picture for the first time since his IBF title-sealing win over Charles Martin back in 2016 is disquieting, but big fights remain on the horizon.

MORE: Anthony Joshua on working with trainer Robert Garcia in 2023: ‘Who knows what will happen next year?’

Promoter Eddie Hearn believes the winner of the November 26 meeting between Dillian Whyte and Jermaine Franklin will be in pole position for a February or March meeting with Joshua. Wilder’s promoter Shelly Finkel has re-opened communications with Hearn and Joshua still relishes the prospect of pitting his wits against Wilder and his destructive fists.

“Unbelievable, well done to him,” he told The Sporting News when asked about Wilder’s win over Helenius.

Speaking from ringside at Dmitry Bivol’s masterful WBA light-heavyweight defence against Gilberto ‘Zurdo’ Ramirez on Saturday night in Abu Dhabi, the 33-year-old offered assurances that a Wilder fight is on the cards.

“It will happen, it will. Probably [next year] to be fair, probably. And we might be back in Abu Dhabi.”

At the post-fight news conference, Hearn was similarly emphatic over the prospects of a Joshua-Wilder showdown.

“Definitely [it’s a reality for next year]. He was one of the names that I mentioned to [Joshua] tonight,” he said.

“He just wants to fight everybody. He said it tonight about Andy Ruiz. I said, ‘Have you seen Andy Ruiz is over there?’ He was like, ‘I’d love to fight him again.’ Why? You’re not fighting him again, f*** off! He’s horrible.

“It’s just a case of whether he has an easier fight before he goes into a Deontay Wilder or a Dillian Whyte. 

“I think Otto Wallin is a very fair fight for AJ to come back to. Filip Hrgovic is a great fight, he’s IBF mandatory, Zhilei Zhang had a good fight with Filip Hrgovic… I’m just pulling names out.

“I think the winner of Dillian Whyte versus Jermaine Franklin is a very good front-runner.”

MORE: ‘Grab your balls and fight’ — Joel Diaz tells Anthony Joshua how he can rule heavyweight world again

For several reasons, it feels like Joshua is at a career crossroads as he enters what are probably the final few years of his prime.

He strongly hinted he will move on to another new coach for his next fight when camp begins in January, having worked under Robert Garcia for the Usyk rematch on the back of a career-long association with Robert McCracken that went back to his Team GB days.

Frank Lucas seats. pic.twitter.com/9cCJjMWMWf

— Anthony Joshua (@anthonyjoshua) November 5, 2022

“I’m just trying to do my best by putting in a lot of effing work,” he said. “To be at the top, you’re separating yourself from a big bunch, so I’ve got to put a lot of work in next year.”

Even so, both Hearn and Joshua have conceded that balancing the demands of the boxer and the multi-national brand does have its drawbacks.

Speaking to The Sporting News earlier in fight week, Hearn claimed Joshua’s commitments to “two months of commercial activity” after each fight makes the desire for increased activity in the ring tricky to fulfil. The 2012 Olympic gold medalist has boxed once in each of the past three calendar years.

“I separate them [boxing and business] but it does have a big interference because I’m quite OCD,” Joshua added. “If I do one thing, I want to do it properly. 

“So, when I’m trying to manage multiple plates, it’s difficult to make all of them perfect when you’re managing a lot of things. It is what it is. I’ve always tried to prepare for my life after sport.”

If the Wilder matchup gets made, Joshua might more immediately be preparing for the fight of his life.


Credit: sportingnews.com

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