It’s easy to lose track of who Anthony Joshua will fight next and on which date. The former unified heavyweight champion was unlucky not to get his fight with Tyson Fury last year as a third fight with Deontay Wilder and The Gypsy King was quietly simmering in the background.
He has since lost his titles in an unsuccessful double-header with Oleksandr Usyk due to mandatory obligations at the time. Now titleless and with two extra defeats to his name the rebuilding process has begun with a move to American trainer Derrick James and with a comeback victory over Jermaine Franklin in the bag.
“He never wanted to shy away from Oleksandr Usyk.” Matchroom CEO Frank Smith said. “Other people in the heavyweight division don’t want to do that. He’s never shied away from any mandatory challenger or anything like that. It is just one of those things, it is the sport we are in, he wanted to come undisputed and I’m sure deep down he still wants to become undisputed. But if the right fights are there that make commercial sense and that deliver, we will always look at them. With the Deontay Wilder fight, it is why it is so important.”
The media is in overdrive as a bout in Saudi Arabia with Deontay Wilder set for December is being negotiated at the time of writing. However, Matchroom are determined to get Joshua in the ring again this summer ahead of a mega-fight with Wilder.
“August 12th is the focus, AJ wants to fight on that date.” Smith explained. “That is the plan, August 12th. Dillian Whyte? The details are with them and we wait for feedback from Dillian’s team and we go from there. I don’t want to talk about it too much because in 24 hours it could all be completely different, it could be done or…I just want to try and focus on making something happen.”
We are six weeks out from August 12th, Joshua’s rematch with Whyte has been explored before but has never seen the pair lock horns again after a needle ridden contest in 2015, which saw Joshua claim a brutal 7th round KO over his London rival.
“I think it is a massive fight.” Smith continued. “I think it is a fight people are very excited for, and it is a fight that will sell very quickly both on pay-per-view and in terms of tickets. Maybe we would have liked a couple of weeks more time [to promote the event] but if we can make it happen, I’m very confident it will do very well.”
Despite the race to find Joshua a credible but not too dangerous opponent in six weeks time, the noises coming from all camps are positive in another fight that has been touted for some time.
“We are very confident that we will deliver the Deontay Wilder fight.” Smith added. “We had some great discussions with Skill Challenge. It does help having essentially an outside third party in Skill Challenge being the go-between because it takes away any potential issues of, not egos, but there is a lot of history. The reality is we all want to make great fights for our fighters and that should takeaway any history with people not getting on with the other.”